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Writer to Writer Ezine, 23rd February, 2005
 

 

 
Top Sponsor Advertisement:
Write your novel in 30 days or less with ‘The Easy Way to Write A Novel’ System
 
 
 
Hi everyone,

Apologies for the lateness of this issue; there were a number of things to tweak at the Writer2Writer.com site before I could send the issue out.

It's been a fairly productive month for me. (Although I would always welcome more time!)

I've written quite a few articles, made more changes to the Writer2Writer.com website, and even spent some time on my novel. As you may know, I'm in the midst of teaching a fiction writing workshop at the moment, and we're having a ball. Oh, and yes, the students are also learning! lol

(I've signed up to participate in Rob Parnell's 'Thriller' course next month, and I'm really looking forward to it. Learning is an ongoing process for me, and I expect to get a lot out of Rob's course. Maybe I'll see you there!)

I've also done some interviews, and received new reviews for Saving Emma - all of them positive. (Yay!)

One thing we can never be sure of, is how someone will find our stories. The reason being that writing, as well as reading, is very selective.

Johnna at Novel Spotters said "This is the way romantic suspense should be done!" Yes, I'm very happy with that comment. You can read the full review at the Novel Spotters website. (Since this is a temporary site, it's a little complicated at the moment. First, click here to go to Novel Spotters, then, click on “New! February 1st 2005 Reviews!” then scroll down to the end to find Saving Emma listed.)

Another review can be found here, at Fallen Angel Reviews.

Saving Emma is currently listed as the number five best seller at Whiskey Creek Press. As I'm sure you can imagine, I am ecstatic about that!

Now for the bad news. My regular travel column has come to an end. It was entirely my decision; my editor emailed to tell me the focus of the magazine has changed and they will no longer run any travel articles. Mine was one of three, and rated extremely high in a reader survey last year.

I was given the option of staying on and writing articles about wine, but since I don't drink alcohol, and have no interest whatsoever in writing about wine, I've decided to call it quits.

I've been contemplating resigning for quite a few months, the reason being that the articles are very time consuming and cut into my fiction writing quite a bit. So as you can see, not such a sad affair after all. (But I will miss that regular money!)

Additional bad news - that many of you may have already heard - is that Arabella Romance Magazine has folded. Bad for writers on the whole because Arabella was a great magazine and paid well, but doubly bad for me because they had requested two more short stories. Boo hoo. (My writing buddy had three stories already contracted, so worse for her.)

We have some great articles again this month. Jeff Colburn talks about attention grabbing openings (and you thought I was pulling your leg!), as well as a report from Sean McLachlan on the 2004 Fantasy Convention held in Tempe, Arizona.

My article this month is all about body language, and how it can assist you in your writing.

Okay, onto the administrative stuff. I have moved all subscriber details over to the autoresponder. That means that from now on, if you want to unsubscribe, you need to click on the link at the end of the emails. It is no longer controlled by Yahoo.

This is a big step to take, but I'm sure it will be for the better. (I hope!) Currently more than seventy subscribers are bouncing via Yahoo. <sigh>

My new publicist has set up a newsletter group for contests, news etc., so if this interests you, feel free to sign up. My first contest should be announced soon. The purpose of the group is to keep readers informed of my novels, interviews, reviews etc. (You need to be a member to be in the running for prizes.)

One last thing before you get to the good stuff - mega mega thanks to all of you for your votes in the Preditors & Editors Readers Poll... the Writer to Writer ezine, Writer2Writer.com website, and Outside the Square Fiction Workshops all finished in the Top Ten of the awards. Again, thank you. (If you would like to check out the winners, click here for the final results.)

Now it's time to grab your favourite chocolates, a nice hot drink, then sit back and enjoy this issue.

 

Cheryl

 

 

Contest Results:

This time around there were eighty-six entries. On the whole, the quality of entries was very high. But quite a number had major grammatical errors, many that went way over word count, and a number of first person stories that had an over abundance of sentences starting with 'I'.

The final judging was difficult, but finally a decision was made. Here are the details of the winning entries:

1st Prize: When We See Men of Worth, by Trish Perry (USA)

(Trish wins a $25 gift voucher from CoolStuff4Writers.com)

2nd Prize: The Angels of Paradise, by Joanne Brindley (England)

(Joanne wins a copy of Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories)

Congratulations to both winners!

Winning entries can be read here, and the new contest can be viewed here.



 

New Additions to the Writer2Writer.com Website:

Review of: Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters that Sell:

At first glance ‘Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters that Sell’ appears to be another one of those books. You know the ones - full to the brim with query letters that landed top paying gigs in top paying mags, but not much else.

Little did I realise this is a book that will give every writer at every level, all the information they need to kick-start or advance their freelance writing career.

Read the full review here

 

Need a webpage? Check out our NEW author pages:

For full details, click here

 

Table of Contents and Excerpts:

I've had quite a few requests for these to be offered with featured books And yes, I listened. The following books now have one or both available. These include (in no particular order):

Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories

I Wanna Win! - Tips for Becoming an Award Winning Writer

Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters that Sell

Write, Create & Promote a Best Seller

 

Articles about Writing:

A number of new articles have been added, so do go and check out the article menu. These will be added to regularly - most likely at least once per fortnight.




Workshops Update:

 
 

Easy Way to Write Romance

Limited places available.

Click here for full details.

 
 

Easy Way to Write

Introduction to the Modern Thriller

Limited places available.

Click here for full details.

 
 

 

EroticaWriting Workshop

This workshop will be held once (only) in 2005

Click here for full details.

 
 

Coming Soon!

**How to Write a Fantasy**

**Securing An Agent**

Both workshops will be available in the near future. Look out for complete details in the next few weeks!

 
 

 

 

Free Courses:

A number of people encountered problems with accessing these last time around. Mega apologies. Both courses are still available, and will be ongoing.

For a list of available free courses click here.

Look out for a fr*e copywriting course soon!

 

Privacy statement: I will never, ever, (even under torture, threat of eating seafood or having my chocolate supply revoked) give-away, sell or divulge your details.

 

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.

Anthony Robbins

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Please note: Language is set as "English - Australia" - words are not spelled incorrectly. (Not intentionally, anyway!)

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Announcements:

Dotsie Bregel, founder of www.boomerwomenspeak.com gladly promotes books written by, for, or about baby boomers. Browse her Boomer Books page, http://www.boomerwomenspeak.com/boomerbooks.htm and email her at dots@boomerwomenspeak.com if you'd like to be included. It's FREE and her site had over a half million hits in January.

Join patricia m. terrell, author of The China Conspiracy during March in the Featured Author Book Club Forum at www.boomerwomenspeak.com. You can chat with her about her path to publication and the nitty gritty of how she created her suspense thriller. There's also a form on the site to recommend Featured Authors.

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Personalise Your Characters with Body Language

ęCheryl Wright – All Rights Reserved

Have you ever stood and watched a long queue of people. It makes no difference why they are waiting; just standing, waiting is boring, and those waiting come across as bland, boring people.

That’s exactly how your characters will appear without some ‘character traits’. They need personality, distinctive dialogue, and their own unique body language.

Body language is basically the ‘gestures’ used by people or characters. For instance, when someone nods or shakes their head, that’s body language. When they purse their lips, it’s body language, and when they throw their arms up in the air in frustration, that’s also body language. Each and every character should have their own individual set of gestures and expressive signals etc.

Perhaps your heroine braces her shoulders when she’s mad. Or maybe she does it when she’s preparing for an argument. In my novel "Saving Emma" the heroine (Emma Larkin) refuses to make eye contact when she is trying to hide something, and licks her lips when she’s nervous.

Your hero might prefer to ‘tower over’ his opponents to make them feel inferior, or maybe he smokes when he’s stressed.

Types of body language include:

Screwing up nose

Twisting hands in lap

Flicking hair over shoulder

Getting into someone’s personal space

Cracking neck

Scratching nose

Scratching hair

Running fingers through hair

Coughing when stressed

Clearing throat

Licking lips

Looking toward ground, rather than having eye contact

Stance may also make a difference to your character’s body language. For instance, they may:

Sit on a desk to eliminate the ‘power stance’

Stand over someone to portray power

Slouch in defeat

Place hands on hips to portray power

Get close to someone’s face (known as being in another person’s personal space)

Look also toward facial gestures for body language. Eyes can tell a lot too; a person may be smiling at the mouth, but not at the eyes. Have you ever heard the expression ‘a smile that goes all the way to his eyes’? It is very true. Next time someone smiles at you, take special notice of their eyes. If they are genuinely happy, you’ll see it in their eyes. If it is a false smile, the area surrounding their eyes will not change at all.

Your characters can have a number of stress triggers or involuntary movements that tell your reader how they are feeling or what they are thinking. This also helps in establishing your character in dialogue rather than using tags all the time.

Here are a couple of websites I’ve recently discovered, which will help you learn more about body language:

http://www.selfgrowth.com/bodyl.html

http://www.bodylanguagetraining.com/

About the author: Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author and freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other projects, she writes a monthly travel column for a magazine in the US and is the author of "Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories" and "I Wanna Win! – Tips for Becoming an Award Winning Writer". Her debut novel "Saving Emma" is available from Whiskey Creek Press. Visit Cheryl’s website

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Win writing contests! Become an Award Winning Writer!

Whether you want to win contests or just want to hone your skills, you need "I Wanna Win! - Tips for Becoming an Award Winning Writer" written by Cheryl Wright; award winning author of Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories.

In a recent twelve month period, Cheryl entered eight writing contests, short listing in six, and placing second in three. So can you!

Now available! Full details can be found here

*Bonus Product included.

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Change your entire mindset about writing short stories…

If you're serious about writing short stories - and making money from them - "Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories" is for you. Written by award-winning Australian author Cheryl Wright, this best selling ebook will guide you toward publication.

For full details and immediate download, click here.

*Bonus included ~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~~^~^~^~^~^

If you are an ezine owner looking to do an ad swap (or two, or three), feel free to contact me:

mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com?subject=AdSwap

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Set The Hook

Grab Them With Your Opening

Copyright 2004 Jeff Colburn

www.CreativeCauldron.com

I can show you how to make everyone that sees your article stop whatever they're doing and read it from beginning to end. That, my friend, is a hook and that is what you need to use to start every fiction and nonfiction piece you write.

Your opening paragraph, and preferably your opening sentence, should hook the reader. You need to grab them by the throat and pull them into your writing

Which of the following fiction paragraphs would grab your attention?

Jim was a man of average looks with an average build. He strolled down the sidewalk reading a newspaper. Soon he reached his house and walked up the steps to the front door. Turning the key in the lock he let himself in. He flicked the light switch, but nothing happened. A gunshot rang out, and he was dead.

Or

"No," a man screamed in the same instant that a gunshot rang out. A body tumbled out the front door and down the steps, making a series of thuds that sounded like a sack of potatoes falling down a flight of stairs. The body slammed into the sidewalk and sprawled in an expanding pool of blood.

Which of these following nonfiction paragraphs would grab your attention?

Doctors have found that 40% of people have chronic minor aches. Of these people 2% of them have a serious medical problem causing this pain.

Or

Could your minor aches and pains be a sign of a serious medical problem?

In today's society people are always in a rush. There's never enough time to do all of the things that need to be done in a day. The time it takes to read your article or story is competing with work, chores around the house, school, kids, after school activities, maintaining a relationship with family members and more. For this reason you need to make your story more appealing, interesting and urgent than the other activities waiting in line for the reader.

There are several ways to do this.

* You can engage the reader with an urgent question, like I did in the sample paragraph above.

* You can also use a time limit. You can say things like, "In just a few moments," or "you have to do this immediately." These, or some similar statements, that enforce the idea that if you don't act now something bad will happen, you'll miss some great opportunity or you have to do something vitally important but you may not have the time, will make the reader feel it's essential to read this now.

* You can make a statement that will attract the interest of a large segment of your target audience. Something like, do you have aches and pains, do you sometimes feel depressed or some other general type of statement.

For a fictional story it's always a good idea to start with some kind of action that will make the reader want to know more. Many writers say that you should actually start a story with your third paragraph. I often do this with my writing. I write the story, but when I look at the first page I see that the story doesn't really start until the second or third paragraph, or sometimes the second or third page. If that's the case, then I just delete those uninteresting parts. Remember, anything that doesn't move your story along is a waste of words.

You can't write like they did at the turn of the century. Have you read the book Green Mansions by W.H. Hudson? It's a wonderful book, but it's not uncommon for the author to spend several pages explaining something that today would be done in a paragraph. I remember one place in the story where he uses three pages to describe the interior of a tiny hut.

Nonfiction is the same; you need more meat and less fluff. You want to get the core of your article, the most important point, and tease them with it in the first sentence or paragraph. Give them a reason to go deeper into your article. Make them feel that they have to read more to find the answer to some question you have posed or some possible threat they may be about to experience. For example, "Are you setting yourself up to be a crime victim?" You can also start with a story or example.

Of course, after you grab the readers interested you need to keep them engaged. Your writing must be tight and be sure that every word moves the story along. If you have started your article with a question, you must answer that question by the end of your article. And for fiction, be sure to wrap up all your story lines and have a resolution to everything. If you lure a reader into your work, but leave them unsatisfied at the end then nothing you do in the future will make them want to read your work again.

Focus on grabbing your reader, compel them to read more, because if you can't make them read the first paragraph, then they won't read anything further.

About the author: Jeff Colburn is a website designer and writer. His goal is to make the process of creating or updating your website easy and simple for you, while creating a website that meets all your needs and expectations. Jeff can also create all of the copy for your website.

To see a sample of Jeff's work go to The Creative Cauldron. It's an award winning site filled with information for writers, photographers, artists and other creative people

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This Month's Featured Resource:

PromoteYourCreativity.com

....just in case you’re sick of hearing me talk about self-promotion, go here and listen to someone else do the same thing!

**Suggestions for the Featured Resource can be sent to: cheryl@writer2writer.com

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Ad Swaps:

Markets, resources and inspiration for writers--you'll find them all at WriteSuccess.com!  Fr*ee biweekly ezine, too.  Everything you need to turn your writing dream into reality!  http://writesuccess.com

FUNDSFORWRITERS - the grant specialist for writers. Four amazing newsletters for writers with all sorts of income potential. http://www.fundsforwriters.com

Writer's Success is a FRE*E weekly newsletter, and online magazine for freelance writers. WS provides you with online guidelines, local writing groups, contests, an extensive glossary, e-books, helpful articles, and writer of the month-all updated weekly! Visit us online at: http://writerssuccess.netfirms.com/ Subscribe by sending a blank email to: nickyswriting@comcast.net with "subscribe" in the subject line.

You've done it! You've finally finished that book or story or article that you always promised yourself you'd write. But what do you do now? Subscribe to The Back End and get advice on editing, publishing and marketing your work. Don't let all your good work go to waste, get The Back End under control too! www.yourbestwork.com/ezine/index.asp

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Call for Submissions:


A CUP OF COMFORT WRITER'S GUIDELINES

Each volume of the bestselling anthology series A Cup of Comfort is filled to the brim with powerful true stories about the experiences and relationships that inspire and enrich our lives. These engaging personal essays – written by people from all walks of life – are carefully selected for inclusion in A Cup of Comfort based on originality, creativity, and substance.

We are actively seeking submissions for the following volumes:

A CUP OF COMFORT FOR GRANDPARENTS – New!
 
Much has been written about the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. For this extraordinary collection, we’re looking for exceptionally creative, distinctive, and emotionally powerful "cut-above" stories about truly remarkable relationships and experiences shared by grandmothers and/or grandfathers and their grandkids. Stories may be humorous or heartwarming, insightful or delightful, poignant or amazing, or all of the above—on any topic specific and/or significant to the grandparent-grandchild connection—and about grandparents and grandchildren of all ages, ethnicities, circumstances, and backgrounds.
   Submission Deadline: April 1, 2005

Submissions are reviewed and semifinalists selected throughout the submission period, so early entry is encouraged.

NOTE: The submission window for A Cup of Comfort for Christians (Faith/Spirituality) is now closed.

WHAT’S BREWING NEXT?

Possible themes of future volumes include:
   Animal Lovers
   Bereaved
   Blended Families
   Fathers and Daughters
   Midlife Women
   New Mothers
   Seniors
   Singles
   Tweens and Teens
   Writers

Any inspiring, heartwarming story about any topic can be submitted at any time.

Got an idea for a Cup of Comfort theme? Send your suggestions to: cupofcomfort@adamsmedia.com.

HOW TO CREATE A SAVORY CUP OF COMFORT STORY

Cup of Comfort stories weave powerful life lessons into vividly told tales. They are nonfiction stories that read like fiction but always ring true. They are slice-of-life tales that reveal the positive aspects of humanity; that make us think and feel and care; that provide insight and inspiration; that entertain and enlighten; and that bring tears of compassion and joy to our eyes, hope to our hearts, and comfort to our souls. Most of all, Cup of Comfort stories are honest, original, and creative depictions of the most important experiences in ordinary lives.

Each Cup of Comfort anthology includes a balanced mix of stories of varied themes, such as:
* Extraordinary achievements and experiences of "ordinary" people
* Life-changing, life-affirming, or life-defining experiences and relationships
* Epiphany, synchronicity, serendipity
* Finding/giving comfort in difficult times
* Triumph over tragedy or adversity
* Life’s blessings and miracles, big and small
* Finding the silver lining in a dark cloud; turning lemons into lemonade
* Relationships and experiences that bring hope, understanding, healing
* Catalysts for and examples of positive change; acts of kindness

Tips for Writing a Winning Cup of Comfort Story:
* Create an anecdotal story about an event or series of event(s) that had a profound and positive impact on you or on the person(s) you are writing about.
* Show, don’t tell. Color your story with action, imagery, dialog, and/or dramatic scenes. Minimize use of adjectives and adverbs. Make the reader experience the events and emotions portrayed.
* Write straight from your heart. Tell your story honestly, fully, and succinctly. Make each scene as real for the readers as it was for the person who lived or witnessed it.
* Begin with a strong lead that hooks the reader, and that clearly and creatively introduces the main character(s), plants the seed for the central premise, and sets the scene.
* Create a rich middle that depicts compelling life experiences and human emotions-in other words, dramatic action. The mid-section should include at least one compelling plot point (pivotal moment) as well as transitional scenes or other transitional devices that continually move the story forward and toward the conclusion.
* End with a satisfying conclusion that resolves the conflict/challenge in a positive way, leaves readers with an Aha! or Wow! or Yes! moment, and elicits tears or cheers or both.
* Build your story around a distinctive, compelling, and believable premise that weaves together the story and drives the plot forward.
* Use lively, descriptive language that is appropriate for the time, place, and people depicted in the story as well as for A Cup of Comfort readers (that is, mainstream adult).
* Read your story out loud and then revise it to remove anything that is not essential to the story. Make sure that every word counts and that the story flows together seamlessly.
* One of the best ways to discover the nature and flavor of Cup of Comfort stories is to read them. A Cup of Comfort books can be purchased at booksellers everywhere. And sample stories are posted on the Website (http://www.cupofcomfort.com).

SUBMISSION SPECIFICATIONS

* Payment: $500 Grand Prize awarded to one story per volume; $100 (each) all other stories published in book. Plus complimentary copy of book. On publication.
* Story Length: 1,000 – 2,000 words
* Point of View: First-person or third-person
* Style: Narrative essay or creative nonfiction, dramatic or humorous, but it must be a story.
  We do not publish fiction, poetry, profiles, odes to, eulogies, sermons, testimonials, journal entries, letters, academic papers, commentary, articles, diatribes, memoir chapters, academic papers, confessionals, erotica, pornography, or experimental literature.
* Stories must be original, true, positive, and in English.
* Previously published material acceptable—with the exception of stories that have been or will be published in a mass-market anthology (printed book) distributed in North America.
* A publishing agreement will be mailed to the Author of each story selected as a finalist.
* Manuscripts are not returned.
* Authors may submit multiple stories for any and for different volumes of Cup of Comfort.
* Entrants pay no entry or reading fees.

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY

Electronic (email) submissions preferred. Mailed and faxed submissions acceptable.
Typed submissions preferred. Neatly handwritten submissions acceptable.

Each submission must include the following at the top of the first page:
* Story title
* Author’s name
* Author’s mailing address
* Author’s phone number
* Author’s email address, if applicable

Choose one of these easy submission methods:

EMAIL: In the subject line, cite the Cup of Comfort volume (i.e., Grandparents). Copy and paste (or type) the story into the body of the email. No attachments. One story per email. Send to: cupofcomfort@adamsmedia.com.

MAIL:  You can send more than one story per envelope. Include one self-addressed, postage-paid envelope for each submission. Submit only the printed/paper copy of the story; do not send computer disks or CDs. Mail to: Cup of Comfort, Adams Media, 57 Littlefield St., Avon, Massachusetts 02322, USA

FAX:   On a cover sheet or at the top of the first page of the story, indicate the volume for which you are submitting the story and the number of pages being submitted. Fax to: 1-508-427-6790

Please direct questions to the email or mailing addresses, above. We cannot accept phone calls.

Copyright 2002-2005 Adams Media Corporation

 

 

 

World Fantasy Convention 2004

Copyright Sean McLachlan – All rights reserved

Betty Ballantine was the center of attention at the 2004 World Fantasy Convention, held Oct. 28 to 31 in Tempe, Arizona, and attended by more than 700 writers, editors, and artists, both long-established professionals and hopeful newcomers. The convention honored the efforts of women in fantasy literature, and the guests of honor included a who's who of women in the field: author Gwyneth Jones; artist Janny Wurts; editor Ellen Datlow; and publisher Betty Ballantine. The toastmistress was Jennifer Roberson. Other featured guests were artist Don Maitz and author/artist Yvonne Navarro. The convention was run by Leprecon, Inc., which hosts the annual convention Leprecon in the Phoenix metro area.

Ballantine, whose career spans 60 years, is a legend in the field. In 1939, she and her late husband Ian helped establish Penguin USA. In 1945, they helped form Bantam Books, which made its fortune by reprinting books as cheaper mass market paperbacks. While both ventures proved successful, the duo wanted to be their own bosses, so in 1952 they founded Ballantine Books. Science fiction was one of their major categories. For a while they ran the company out of their apartment. Betty’s office was the kitchen and editors took over their son’s bedroom. With such popular titles as "Childhood’s End," "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Space Merchants," they were soon able to afford a real office and their son got his bedroom back.

Ballantine Books quickly became a mainstay of the sf publishing field. They also introduced fantasy to the mass market through authorized editions of J.R.R. Tolkien and reprints of classic tales by such masters as Lord Dunsany and Mervyn Peake, as well as emerging authors.

Betty’s ideas on editing certainly helped make her ventures so successful.

"The essence of editing lies in helping the author say what he wants to say in the way he wants to say it. Sounds simple. But often they don’t know what they want to say, they’re struggling–so you become a psychologist, as well as mother, banker, lawyer. . .and certainly, as always, the author’s champion. . .," she said.

Betty made herself very available throughout the convention, and was often seen sitting in the sunlit courtyard of the hotel sharing memories and advice with her admirers. In her guest of honor speech, she thanked the convention for their support.

"I really feel as if you’re all my grandchildren. When I first started sf in this country it was considered pulp. Pulp! It took a long time to get the recognition that I think all of you deserve," she said.

The four-day convention had a schedule filled with programming. Panel discussions were well attended and mostly centered around women in fiction. In a panel on "Mistakes in Creating Strong Female Characters," Gwyneth Jones, author of award-winning books such as "White Queen" and "King Death’s Garden" (the latter written under the name Ann Halam), cautioned writers not to over glamorize strong women in their work.

"You can be strong and still lose," she said.

She also pointed out that beginning writers often try to make their plots and characters too logical.

"Remind yourself that in real life things don’t make sense," she said.

Other panels were more general, including one on "The Importance of Atmosphere and Mood in Dark Fantasy." Longtime fan writer and critic Darrel Schweitzer advised that subtlety is the key to creating effective atmosphere.

"As soon as we know we’re being manipulated it stops working," he said. "Understatement is better than overstatement."

He also stressed that the importance of building up to a strong, coherent conclusion so that "in the last 40% of a novel you go for a unified effect."

Andrew Fox, author of the acclaimed, and very funny, "Fat White Vampire Blues," emphasized that characters weren’t the only way to create mood.

"I treat my settings almost like subsidiary characters," he said, adding that settings can be dynamic, interacting with the heroes and taking on a life of their own.

Besides going to panels, attendees loaded themselves down with merchandise from the dealers’ and artists’ rooms, which included stalls for dozens of publishers, bookshops, and artists. An auction raised $5317 for the Charles L. Grant Emergency Medical Fund. Grant is a three-time World Fantasy Award winning author who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He is without health insurance and the fund will help him pay for medical expenses. The items for sale included original artwork, signed first editions, and a bottle of Figueroa Crianza 2001 red wine from the Bodegas Jesus Figueroa. This wine was labeled specially for the Xatafi 2003, also known as HispaCon XXI.

People also took time to relax in the hotel’s lobby and bar, to meet with old friends and discuss their favorite authors. Another popular meeting place was the hospitality suite, a mainstay of North American conventions. A room in the hotel is converted into a lounge and restaurant, with volunteers preparing snacks and even full meals. Eating, conversation and literary debate continue from early in the morning until late in the night. The hospitality suite was in the able hands of Marjorie and James Kosky, who regularly run the hospitality suite at Tuscon, the local Tucson, Arizona, science fiction and fantasy convention. In addition to snacks, the Koskys served up dinner every evening, with meals ranging from fondue to Mexican food.

The Koskys weren’t the only Arizona fans who were busy in 2004. The Phoenix metro area, which includes the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, and several others, is the first city to host World Horror Convention, World Fantasy Convention, and Westercon (a western regional convention) all in the same year. A tremendous amount of effort by fans statewide made it possible. Mike Willmoth, chairman for this year’s World Fantasy Convention, quipped, "we don’t recommend repeating this feat."

The heart of any major convention, and the place where the most work gets done, are the parties held in the rooms of various editors and publishers. This is where writers and editors meet, manuscripts are hustled, and deals are made. Drinks flow freely and people talk candidly about the state of the genre. This year, unfortunately, the news was not good. The shaky US economy has hit publishing hard. It is becoming increasingly difficult for unknown writers to get the attention of major houses. Many mid-listers, whose names are less known and whose sales are steady but modest, are finding that their contracts are not being renewed. The consensus seems to be that it is harder than ever to get the attention of a major company.

Getting published, however, has never been easier. With the advent of desktop publishing and print on demand technology, many new publishing houses have cropped up. New writers have more outlets for their work than ever before. While this gives them a chance for exposure, more and more of the marketing of their book is falling on their shoulders. Getting published by a small press does not guarantee readers, but it does give writers a chance. The considerable number of small presses that made it onto the nomination ballot for this year’s World Fantasy awards shows that the fan community is recognizing them as a significant force in publishing.

While there was a diversity of publishers at the convention, the same could not be said about the attendees. World Fantasy Convention may perhaps be better called "Anglo Fantasy Convention." There were many visitors from Canada and the United Kingdom, but only a handful from other countries. The only representatives from a Spanish-speaking country were the bottle of Figueroa Crianza and a guiri who happens to live in Madrid! Even among the Americans there was a significant lack of diversity, with few Hispanics and virtually no blacks. This does not reflect a limitation on the part of the readers; fantasy is widely read by all types of people in the U.S. and beyond. So where does the problem lie? Perhaps with the fact that since its beginnings in 1975, the convention has only been held outside the U.S. four times–twice in London, once in Ottawa, and once in Quebec City. That’s only one non-English speaking city in 30 years. Anglo fandom, which so loves to explore the worlds of myth and legend, would benefit from an exploration its own world as well.

The weekend culminated in the annual World Fantasy Award Banquet. Two nominees in each category were placed on the ballot by votes submitted by members of the convention, and the rest of the ballot was completed by a panel of judges. The judges for 2004 were John Clute, Sherwood Smith, Michael Stackpole, Alain Nevant and Scott Wyatt. The winners were selected by the judges.

Winners for 2004 were:

Special award, non-professional– Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker for Tartarus Press

Special award, professional– Peter Crowther, for PS Publishing

Artist– Donato Giancola and Jason Van Hollander (tied)

Collection– Bibliomancy, by Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing)

Anthology– "Strange Tales," edited by Rosalie Parker (Tartarus Press)

Short Fiction– "Don Ysidro," by Bruce Holland Rogers (in Polyphony 3, Wheatland Press)

Novella– "A Crowd of Bone," by Greer Gilman (in "Trampoline: an anthology," Small Beer Press)

Novel– "Tooth and Claw," by Jo Walton (Tor)

Lifetime Achievement, Horror– Stephen King

Lifetime Achievement, Fantasy– Gahan Wilson

Each winner was presented with an award–a bust of H.P. Lovecraft. Stephen King was not able to be present and said in a prepared statement that he was busy writing a book about the Boston Red Sox due Dec. 3. The book had just taken a more interesting turn during the first day of the convention, when the team won its first World Series since 1918. King added that, "I love fantasy and horror above all else and my work in the field is not yet done, despite what you have read."

The guests of honor also got a chance to speak, and many took the opportunity to share their love for the convention and the field.

Betty Ballantine, in summing up her long career, said "there is no greater joy than knowing that you’ve made a reader."

Janny Wurts said simply, "Thank you for making me a part of a thousand wonderful moments."

The next World Fantasy Convention will be held in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2005, and in Austin, Texas, in 2006. The 2005 convention will honor the influential Wisconsin publisher Arkham House. The 2006 convention will coincide with Robert E. Howard’s 100th birthday and will be dedicated to his memory.

About the Author: Sean McLachlan writes both fiction and nonfiction from his home in Madrid. At World Fantasy Convention he moderated the panel "Researching Historical Female Characters." His latest book, "Byzantium: An Illustrated History", was published by Hippocrene Books in 2004.


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         Last updated: February 19, 2007