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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Muse Online Writers Conference Is Over!

Some of you may have wondered why I didn't post anything new this week. I was trying to attend the Muse Online Writers Conference and my time was spent reading and interacting with new people and learning about writing topics. However, due to my family needing me for everything this week I didn't spend as much time as I wanted at the conference.

Let me explain this conference for anyone who is unfamiliar with it. Imagine going to a writing conference in your pjs and having access to not only fellow writers but editors, publishers and agents. Yes, you can meet editors, publishers and agents as well as fellow writers at a usual writers conference. But can you attend in your pjs? Can you make dinner, do the wash, watch TV, talk to your children, get phone calls and still be at a conference? That is the Muse Online Writers Conference.

The Muse Online Writers Conference is the brainchild of Lea Schizas who must seriously have at least a few clones, because the woman is like Wonder Woman. She has created this conference for anyone who in the past was unable to attend a regular conference due to travel issues or being housebound or the expense. The conference is free and Lea invites writers, authors, publishers, editors, and agents to give workshops. The workshops run for the entire week with presenters doing planned chats and participating in a forum where participants have more access to the presenters. The presenters give out handouts that are the jewels of the conference. When you are signed up for the conference you are given a chance to gather as many handouts as you can download onto your computer. These are full of information and contain links to all sorts of wonderful things for writers. Even if you can't attend even one chat, the forum and the handouts are enough.

Unlike most conferences the emphasis is not all on marketing and published authors. Anyone who feels they have the ability to carry a chat and/or a workshop is invited to present. The variety of presenters is astounding and it's amazing that this can be put together by one person. This year Lea added a chance for writers to pitch their finished manuscripts to the publishers that were there. Of course, I learned about this too late or else I wasn't paying enough attention to it to do it. So I missed out. But we have another chance, because just as in a regular conference, publishers have opened their submissions for just attendees of this conference. We have a secret word and you won't get it out of me.:) I think I have written about my secret keeping abilities here, but if I haven't you have to take my word that I can keep a secret a long, long time!

The other great thing about the conference is all the new people you can meet. I found out there are at least three people who live near me and that was so exciting. I connected with all of them and I hope to meet them in person. At the end of the conference there is an awesome end of conference chat party too. You can actually have everything you would have at a conference with none of the expense or aggravation. I am definitely signing up for next year and all writers no matter if you are published or not should try to sign up too. I am going to be interviewing Lea in 2010 on my radio show, Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages.

So here's the good news for me. During this conference I took a workshop with Margot Finke, who some of you may know has a very respected name in children's writing. The title of this was: "Write As Tight As Granny's New Girdle". With a title like this who wouldn't want to take this workshop? Margot and I have been friends for years so I thought this would be fun. We had to post one page of our novel and she was going to comment and critique it. She does it professionally, so I was very nervous. I gave her the first couple of paragraphs of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and prayed I wouldn't need to change too much and that it was ready to be sent again to a publisher. Well, I am happy to say that she loved my excerpt and only told me to cut a few words and put in one word. I was so ecstatic I did the happy dance.LOL Any writers out there will know what I mean!

I have renewed confidence that this can be published and I am sending it out this week again. I mean the worst that can happen is I will get another rejection. At least it won't be lonely. I already have three there already.:)

That reminds me to tell you that this week I will be doing my second radio show and one of my guests is going to be Elizabeth Spann Craig. She will be discussing her novel, Pretty Is As Pretty Dies, which is a murder mystery set in a small southern town. I read it and enjoyed learning about life in that town. Elizabeth will also be my guest author here on the blog next week.

Her bio:
Like her characters, Elizabeth Spann Craig’s roots are in a small, Southern town. She grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood in the county library, staggering out with books by the armful.

Her magazine articles have appeared in both England and the United States.

She’s the mother of two and currently lives in Matthews, North Carolina. Between juggling room mom duties, refereeing play dates, and being dragged along as chaperone/hostage on field trips, she dreams of dark and stormy nights beside stacks of intriguing mysteries with excellent opening lines.

Here is a short review of the book:

Book Review of Pretty Is As Pretty Dies

Pretty is As Pretty Dies is the story of what happens when a small southern town is suddenly rocked by a series of murders. The first happens to one of the wealthiest and most feared women in the town in the church. The second occurs a few days after her death to one of the parishioners. Was someone bumping off the churchgoers of this town or was it a serial killer on the loose? Or was there something political involved here? The dead woman has so many enemies it is hard to see how she was able to stay alive this long.

Unfortunately for the police chief his mother, an active octogenarian, is on the case. This causes a problem for him, because his mother is always getting in his way. Could the editor of the town’s newspaper where the dead woman had a column, help to solve the mystery? Or is it the brilliant award winning writer from New York who shared column space with her and the chief’s mother? Was it a case of writing jealousy or did it have to do with the dead woman’s son?

All of these questions are answered in this short novel packed with excitement and tension. Very much in the vein of Miss Marple, the police chief’s mother weaves in and out of people’s lives trying to solve this mystery. In the process we learn about almost every member of the town and as the book progresses it is hard not to form your own opinion about who murdered this woman and why.

If you like the character of the police chief’s mother, Elizabeth Craig has written several novels featuring her and her brand of sleuthing. Also when you read the book you will understand why there are gnomes on the cover.

Please join me and Elizabeth Spann Craig on Thursday, October 22nd at 3PM Central time when we discuss this book and her writing and get to know her a little better. There will be another guest on the show to be announced. Hope to have lots of you listening. Remember if you miss the show at the time it is on live you can still hear it as a podcast on the website.

Until the next time, thank you to the new readers who are now reading my meanderings.:) Welcome and I hope that you continue to enjoy all of my ravings.:) To readers who have been here thank you too. Everyone wish me luck on my submission. Ah, can you imagine hundreds of fingers and toes crossed for me?LOL

Please leave comments. I would love to know if any of my new readers met me this week. Leave a comment here and let me know how you found out about this blog.


  1. I'm looking forward to being featured on your blog, Barbara. Thanks!

    I was interested in your thoughts on the Muse Conference. I actually was signed up but couldn't attend due to...well, life going nuts. I think that's both the blessing and the curse of a virtual conference--you can be at home, but then you're *at home*! With all the craziness.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Hi Barbara. I want to thank you for mentioning the Muse Online Writers Conference. Thrilled you were able to attend whatever time given to you. And the publishers and agents were so impressed with the quality of the pitches they are all coming back next year and even some during 2010. I have one pitch session scheduled for Dec 2009 with Morrigan Books. So, Barbara, if you've written dark fiction, email me.

    Elizabeth, congrats on your book. Also 'at home' can be crazy, I KNOW!! >>GRIN<< But my family knows not to bug me during the conference otherwise they get that 'smoke coming out of my nose and eyes shooting flames' look.

  3. Elizabeth, I left out your bio so I have just added it. I am looking forward to having you here and also to our radio interview on Thursday!

    I find the online conference very exciting, because you never know who you will meet or what you will learn. I know it is hard when your family is home and they don't understand the importance of what you are doing. To them you are just on the computer as you are all the time.:)

  4. Hi Lea! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I looked at the Morrigan Books submissions requirements and I don't have any dark fiction unless you can consider my adult novel that is a romance/mystery/adventure story. I'll email with details.:)

    It is you who needs to be thanked for your countless hours getting this conference ready and for your very high standards for presenters. I think the pitches are a great extra and a real incentive to people to come again. See what an idea of having a conference for everyone in "come as you are" has led? You are a pioneer!

  5. Love this blog and the content. Would be thrilled to be invited to attend the conference next year if I qualify. Happy just to hang out amongst you all. Alicia

  6. Alicia,
    I'm blushing! Thank you! Thanks for revisiting.:)

    You don't need to be invited to attend the MuseOnline Writers Conference. All you need to do is sign up. If you're interested here is the link:

    You will probably get an email from Lea Schizas, the head of the conference to tell you they have your registration. It takes place usually around the second week of October and more than a thousand attended this year. It might be too early for you, but try anyway.:)

  7. In an age when event budgets are being cut and broadband Internet access is rising, webinars are becoming increasingly popular. Webinars are web-based seminars, that usually include over 30 participants and are used to conduct presentations, workshops, lectures and large-scale meetings. Since webinars are held online, they allow companies to save money on travel, catering and venues, all of which are costs commonly associated with face-to-face seminars. However, due to their large attendance, webinars need careful planning in order to be successful. This is why those planning on free webinar hosting need to take their time to ensure that they properly go through all the necessary steps which will ensure the webinar’s success.

  8. Simon, I agree that free webinars are very effective. However, my blog is not a place to advertise them. If you comment again with a link to something I did not approve I will delete it. The link didn't show on my comment moderation or I would not have published it.


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