Monday, April 29, 2013

Desiree Holt on EPICon 2014

This week I am interviewing Desiree Holt, who is currently planning EPICon 2014, coming up next March in San Antonio, TX.

Disclaimer: Larry and I have attended every EPICon since 2006. They are our favorite conferences, and we often present workshops. We never fail to learn new things!

Desiree, thank you for being my guest today. You have been very active in planning the past two EPICons and you will be in charge of the next one. What do you like about this particular conference?

Desiree: First and foremost I’d have to say the number and variety of workshops. We have many new presenters this year and many new topics. We are offering everything from the mechanics of social media—not why you should do it but how to. We’ll have everything from “Painting the Picture—How to Make Your Readers ‘see’ Your Characters” to a workshop about prisons for people who write thrillers and suspense. We’ve added some spice to eFiesta. Authors will sign cover flats or cards or whatever they choose to bring, and we will also have a Google chat set up so readers who can’t attend can talk to their favorite authors. And finally, “Speed Dating with Editors” for both published and unpublished authors, a chance to pitch your story to a variety of editors.

What special events are planned for EPICon 2014?

Desiree: We’ll have the popular river cruise we did two years ago and we’re adding a one hour ghost tour. You now, The Menger is a haunted hotel and we wanted our attendees to know all about the ghosts that haunt that place as well as surrounding areas.

Who may attend the conference?

Desiree: Absolutely anyone. There is something here for everyone involved in digital publishing—authors, editors, publishers, designers. You name it. We especially encourage aspiring writers and readers to attend. But I encourage all industry professionals to join EPIC if they have not already. The membership fee is a very, very reasonable at $30 per year and offers a lot of benefits.

What makes this conference different from all the other writing conferences?

Desiree: First and foremost, it deals strictly with all things digital. You can learn everything from how to prepare your manuscript to how to format it for self-publishing to how to promote yourself on the Internet. We have workshops that explain the uniqueness of digital publishing and promotion and presenters who will explain how to do it.

Can unpublished writers attend? How about readers?

Desiree: Yes. And everyone you will sit next to, have coffee or a drink with, attend workshops with, is involved in the world of digital publishing so you have a unique opportunity to share and absorb information pertaining just to this industry.

What are the dates and location for the conference?


March 13-16, 2014, The Menger Hotel, San Antonio, Texas.

And it’s always bigger and better in Texas, you know!

How can people find our more information?

Desiree: Simply go to and click on the Lone Star Flag. The schedule is still a work in progress but we will be updating it constantly.

When can we start signing up?

I am hopeful that the registration from will go up no later than May 15.

Thank you, Desiree, for joining me today. I, for one, can’t wait to go to EPICon 2014!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview With Larry K. collins

Today, just for fun, I interviewed my partner in life and in crime (novels, that is), Larry K. Collins. You might enjoy some of his answers.

What started you writing?

I’ve always created stories in my head. From four until age twelve, I stuttered badly. Talking to others was so difficult I stopped speaking and retreated from the outside world. When I was seven, TV’s Space Patrol and Commander Buzz Corry held my fascination. For Christmas, I got the official patrol space station model, complete with two-inch high plastic spacemen (Buzz, his crew, and several villains). My imagination provided many hours of adventures.

At ten, it was Disney’s movie Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I constructed a complete scale set of the Nautilus out of wood and cardboard. I always made up stories, plots and characters. I liked mine better than what I saw on TV. I just never put them down on paper.

In my sophomore year of high school, my English teacher was also the writing club sponsor. For his class, each Monday morning, every student had turn in a story with any subject, a minimum two pages, single-spaced. Most of my classmates hated the course. I loved it. I began to write down the imagined adventures from my youth. Two of my short stories were published in the yearly school literary magazine, The Silver Pen.

What are your writing goals?

Two years ago, Lorna’s anthology, Directions of Love, won the EPIC eBook Award for best romance anthology. Since then I have had to live with an “award winning author”. Someday I hope to even the score.

What is the hardest thing about the writing life?

I’m a plotter. But I live and write with a pantser.

I spend days in thought. I know the story arc, character progression, and have outlined the logical story path to the end, often before words go on paper. It makes me a slow writer. If I can get a chapter done in two weeks, I’m doing well.

Lorna always knows where the story will end, but her characters lead her on a merry chase through strange and unknown pathways to arrive there. She writes fast and trusts her voices to show the way.

We’ve totally different styles. Yet, somehow when we coauthor, the magic still works.

Do you enjoy blogging? Why or why not?
I have to admit, I’m not big on blogging. I guest occasionally on Lorna’s and others’ blogs, but that’s about it. As I said, I write slowly.

Are there any other genres you’d like to write?

I read and love science fiction and fantasy, but I’ve never written it. That genre tends to be on a grand scale, with all-encompassing stories, saving the universe, or protecting the shire from Sauron. I tend to write smaller stuff. One detective solves one case, or saves one person.

But someday, I just might try it.

What is your favorite of your own books, so far? Why?

The genres I’ve written in are so different, it’s hard to choose. My collection of short stories Lakeview Park is my latest. Each of the fifteen stories stands alone, but they are linked in that they all take place in and around a small urban park in a large city. Writing it gave me a chance put down my observations of people I noticed while walking in a real park, and to go back to my favorite, slice-of-life, short story style.

What are you working on now? Where did the idea come from?

The current book in progress is historical fiction, The Memory Keeper. It takes place at Mission San Juan Capistrano between 1812 and 1890, as told by a Juañeno Indian.

A lot happened during the period: earthquakes, a pirate attack, two-wars, statehood, bandits, epidemics, floods, and droughts. Lorna and I have spent more than a year in research and expect it will take another year to complete.

We have lived about three miles from the mission for the past twenty-five years and became fascinated with the period. We also obtained the help of the San Juan Capistrano historian and a Juañeno storyteller to help us get our facts straight.

Just like all our books, whatever I’m working on at the moment is my favorite.

Thanks, Larry. Even I learned a few things I didn’t know! You can read more about both of us on our website

Monday, April 1, 2013

Attending Writers' Conferences

 A couple of weeks ago, we spent four days in Vancouver, WA at EPICon, the annual conference for EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition). As we have since 2006, we loved spending time with others who are as obsessed with books as we are. Then, in July, we will go to Las Vegas for the PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) conference. Why do we keep going to conferences?
In 2005, after our first book, a memoir entitled 31 Months in Japan: the Building of a Theme Park, was published, we decided to attend the now-defunct Maui Writers Conference.  We had already planned a trip to Hawaii for the same time, and my favorite author at the time, Gail Tsukiyama, was one of the presenters. Larry said he’d rather surf. That is, until he found out one of his favorites, Terry Brooks, would be speaking. Oh, and he realized the cost of the conference was tax-deductible.

He agreed to go, but said he’d drop me off in the morning, go surfing, and pick me up in the afternoon, except for the time Terry was scheduled. I agreed.

Once we arrived, however, and he saw all the topics available, he decided maybe he’d go to one or two workshops. It was a good thing we had another few days on Oahu after the conference, because he never surfed on Maui.

We heard some awesome people speak, learned a lot, which we’re still using, met some wonderful folks, and had a blast! Oh, and we also met the guy who became the inspiration for our protagonist, Agapè Jones, in our mysteries, Murder… They Wrote and Murder in Paradise  (finalist for the EPIC eBook Award).

We discovered spending time around others who understood when we complained that our characters wouldn't cooperate was empowering. If we say, “I just couldn’t sleep last night. My latest character kept talking all night,” they don’t think we’re crazy. In fact, they nod sagely. They’ve been there, too.

Later the same year we decided to go to EPICon in San Antonio when our book, 31 Months: The Building of a Theme Park, was named one of the two finalists in the nonfiction category.

This conference was a more intimate, but we actually preferred it in some ways to the big one. And we loved visiting San Antonio. We didn’t win the award, but we had a ball. And we’ve been attending EPICon each year since.

By now, quite a few of the members have become dear friends. I met one of my writing partners at the first conference. We’ve since written five anthologies together, including Directions of Love, which won the EPIC eBook Award for best romance anthology.

Why do we keep going, year after year? Because the workshops are relevant to the publishing industry and we never fail to gain information to make our writing better. Because we love reconnecting with dear friends every year and making new ones. Because writers are lots of fun!

We plan to attend EPICon again next year. In fact, our arms have already been twisted to present our workshop "The Perfect Pitch" again next year. (We've presented every year since 2007, including doing the luncheon keynote for one.)

Hope to see you at a conference next year!