Monday, June 29, 2009

Writers' Symposium Ezine, Issue #7

The Writers’ Symposium Ezine

“Helping Writers Write”
Issue #7, June 2009
The K.I.S.S. the Pen Issue

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From the Editor: Paul Genesse
Featured Author Bio: Monica Valentinelli
Featured Content: The K.I.S.S. Writing System by Monica Valentinelli
Featured Content: Not Happy With Your Writing Pick Up A Pen, by Monica Valentinelli
New and Current Releases from Writers’ Symposium Members
List of Current Writers’ Symposium Members & Contact Info
Final Thought

From the Editor

One of the best things about being a writer or attending the various conventions is meeting other writers, and people who are interested in writing. In this issue, I’d like to introduce you to one of my coolest new friends, writer and internet marketer, Monica Valentinelli. She just joined the Writers’ Symposium and will be speaking on the panels at Gen Con Indy 2009. She shares with us her K.I.S.S. method, and also suggests a return to actually using a real pen to get inspired. Her blog is full of incredibly useful information, and Monica is a great addition to the Writers’ Symposium. These articles are helpful, but please visit her blog and dive in.

Paul Genesse, Editor and Author of THE DRAGON HUNTERS—releasing May of 2009

Featured Author: Monica Valentinelli

Monica Valentinelli splits her time between writing, working as an online marketer, and filling the role of project manager for the horror and dark fantasy webzine As a freelance writer for the gaming industry, Monica has over a dozen game and game fiction credits to her name including: Worlds of the Dead by Eden Studios, an award-winning fiction piece entitled “Promises, Promises” for Promethean by White Wolf and her recent novella “Twin Designs” which was part of the collection Tales of the Seven Dogs Society for the game Aletheia by Abstract Nova Press.
Look for her horror short story “Pie” in an anthology called “Buried Tales of Pinebox, TX.” To read more about Monica, visit her urban fantasy novel series located at or her blog located at, which is geared toward helping “new” writers embrace writing as a hobby or as a career.

Please visit Monica at her awesome blog filled with informative posts about writing and thriving at where you’ll get the perspectives of a writer and an internet marketer.

Remember the Writers’ Symposium Blog:

New Fiction by Monica Valentinelli

Buried Tales of Pinebox, TX—featuring a story by Monica Valentinelli

Welcome to Pinebox, a sleepy little East Texas town with more than its share of trouble. Whether it’s the snake cultists running the local bar or vengeful spirits haunting the high school boys locker room, there always seems to be some sort of trouble brewing just below the surface. Join us for a dozen tales of horror from these haunting voices in fiction.

Buried Tales of Pinebox, Texas is available now from many sources, check

Tales of the Seven Dogs Society—featuring a novella by Monica Valentinelli

Written in the first person, Monica’s novella entitled “Twin Designs” is a tale of two brothers named Ralph and Edgar Whitman. Each of the twins have the ability called “Presque Vu,” which enables the gifted to see whether or not an event is part of the grand design.
The book is comprised of three novellas written by Monica Valentinelli, Jim Johnson, and Matt M McElroy.
Tales of the Seven Dogs Society is available at and


There are a lot of ways to communicate your point, but sometimes the simplest vocabulary and the shortest sentences offer the biggest benefit. While every writer knows and understands that, what’s not so simple is our process for making decisions.
Enter the K.I.S.S. system, which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. (The acronym can also be used to describe Keep It Short and Simple, too.)
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the challenge for a lot of writers is this little thing called “the brain.” This spongy mass tends to get in the way of great writing because it’s easy to “over-think” your projects and what you’re working on. Having a strategy to write is one thing, but thinking about your writing so much that you end up either a) not writing or b) writing something you’re not happy about. Our writing ends up suffering because we feel obligated to write something rather than focus on something we want to write.
If you feel you’re over-rationalizing your projects, then read on because I’ve got good news for you. You can use the K.I.S.S. system to simplify your woes and get back to writing what you want to write. All you have to do is ask yourself these simple questions and limit your responses to one, two or three word answers.
I’d like to help you by using an example. Let’s say you are tasked with writing an e-book about how to use WordPress. Here’s how the K.I.S.S. system can help you:

1. What am I writing? - e-book
2. Who am I writing it for? - first-time users
3. What is the format of my project? - how-to, non-fiction
4. What is the primary focus? - explain main features
5. Do I need to do any research for this project? – no
6. Do I need to use any additional skills? - yes, screen shots
7. Is the project paid or unpaid? – paid
8. What do I achieve by working on this project? - money, publication credit
9. Do I own the rights to the content? – no
10. Is there a contract? - yes, work-for-hire
11. Are edits including in the contract? – no
12. Is this a project I want to write or have to write? - have to, money
13. Am I getting paid fairly? – no
14. Is the publisher reputable? – yes
15. How much time will this take? - 10 to 15 hours

Here you can see that fifteen questions, broken down into simple answers, offer a wealth of information. In this example, the writer can see at-a-glance what the project will entail from the legal side of things to the production side. Based on these fifteen questions and responses, is this a project you would take on in your schedule?

If you’re interested in a related topic, I offered a little bit of information on this when I designed some writing exercises on my website. The K.I.S.S. system can also be applied to the way in which you write as well. A writer’s style is often something that develops naturally over time. Using simple, clear phrases can help improve your writing in some cases, but may not work for every project that you’re writing for.

What kinds of questions would you ask yourself when working on a project? Can you limit your answers like I did?


One of the things that I’ve discovered, is that if you overload yourself on the business of writing and the essentials of everyday life, your writing can be affected in ways that you don’t even realize. I find that this is especially true if you “rush” toward a deadline.
If you find you’re not enjoying your writing anymore, or if you realize that your writing has become crunchy and mechanical, I recommend putting away your keyboard and picking up a physical pen instead. Sometimes, all it takes to create a great story, is to channel the writers of old by getting back to the basics of writing implementation. Sometimes, all you need is a great pen, a journal or an old typewriter and some fancy paper to remind yourself that writing is not just about typing away on your computer. Often, the way we put the words down on the page can have as big of an impact on us as what we’re writing.

How do I break away from the computer while I’m on deadline? I’ve found some great writing implements and other creative tools that I use to help me focus.

I picked up this glass pen and ink set at The glass pen can also be found underneath a special name, as a Murano glass pen. What’s neat about this set is that it’s pretty inexpensive yet you get two glass pens and six inkwells of various colors. I’ve had a lot of fun with lettering using my set, too.

I find that it’s essential to have on hand an excellent box of paper for all manner of correspondence. My box is a stack of #24 pound, white linen paper with matching envelopes. They weren’t cheap (good paper never is) but it’s an investment that I don’t regret. When I’m offering writing submissions through print, I typically print out my cover letter on my fancy paper then opt for plain, white paper for the actual story or article. You can typically find a really nice box of paper through your local printing company, or you can go to an office supply store. Expect to spend about seventy-five dollars for the set.

I’ve mentioned the products that offers before, on my blog Through Amazon, you can get the books discounted at a great price, and you can sign up for free art samples from Dover directly. I really enjoy this particular book because I can use the ornate letters in various writing projects for that extra touch. The ornate alphabets range from medieval lettering (i.e. what you might find in projects for illumination) to Victorian-era replete with scrollwork and ivy. Why not make your own stationery for your business letters and correspondence? When was the last time you sent a hand-written note?

Last but not least I’d like to mention some of the journals I’ve used over the years. Every journal I own has a history to it, either I’ve received one as a gift or I’ve picked one up for a special occasion. One of my favorite types of journals to get are the ones with a magnetic flap on the front. Although it takes a little getting used to, the flap is nice because you don’t have to worry about the journal’s pages opening. I’ve seen many fellow writers taking a journal with them everywhere to write ideas down, and this is a practice I need to do more often.
Hope these ideas have inspired you. If you have any to share, let me know!

Congratulations to Hugo Award Nominee, Editor John Helfers!

Congratulations to John Helfers, who was recently nominated for a prestigious Hugo award for his editing with the very cool Vorkosigan Companion, which was co-edited by Lillian Stewart Carl. John is an amazing editor, a very busy writer doing tons of projects, and a big fan of Lois McMasters-Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, which chronicle the life of Miles Vorkosigan—who is short of stature, but big of heart and intellect. I recently read my first Vorkosigan novel and loved it. We wish John the best and hope he walks away from World Con in Montreal with a Hugo.

New and Recent Novels, Anthologies and More by Symposium Authors

***The Writers’ Symposium welcomes it’s newest member, Greg Wilson, who will be speaking on many of the panels at Gen Con this year. Visit him online at

THE THIRD SIGN, a novel by Gregory A. Wilson

“Wilson's fantasy debut recalls the complexity of classic epic fantasy in the tradition of Robert Jordan. Combining adventure with mystery and memorable characters, this is a good choice for committed fantasy fans.”
—Jackie Cassada, Library Journal

“In The Third Sign, Gregory Wilson pulls off the single most difficult feat of magic in an epic fantasy: he makes it real...A very satisfying tale from an intriguing new voice.”
—David Niall Wilson, Bram Stoker award winning author of “Deep Blue” and “The Relic of the Dawn.”

GRANTS PASS, Anthology Edited by Jennifer Brozek

The apocalypse has arrived.
Humanity was decimated by bio-terrorism; three engineered plagues were let loose on the world. Barely anyone has survived.
Just a year before the collapse, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA, was publicly labeled as a place of sanctuary in a whimsical online, “what if” post. Now, it has become one of the last known refuges, and the hope, of mankind.
Would you go to Grants Pass based on the words of someone you’ve never met?

Featuring stories by Jennifer Brozek, Jay Lake and Ed Greenwood, plus many more.
Visit for more.

18 original stories that take familiar fairy tales and shift them around to give them an entirely new slant. Like, Revenge of the Little Match Girl—where one of the most innocent characters of all time becomes a homicidal pyromaniac.
Edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg. Read stories by Dennis L. McKiernan, Chris Pierson, Kathleen Watness, Jim C. Hines, Stephen D. Sullivan, Paul Genesse, Skip & Penny Williams, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Janet Deaver-Pack, Kelly Swails, and Michael A. Stackpole. Released May 2009

GAMER FANTASTIC, Edited by Kerrie Hughes
From a teenager who finds a better future in virtual reality; to a private investigator hired to find a dying man’s grandson in the midst of a virtual reality theme park; from a person gifted with the power to pull things out of books into the real world; to a psychologist using fantasy role-playing to heal his patients; from a gaming convention where the real winners may not be who they seem to be; to a multi-layered role-playing game that leads participants from reality to reality and games within games—these imaginative and fascinating new tales will captivate both lovers of original fantasy and anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of role-playing games. Edited by Kerrie Hughes. Releasing July 1, 2009. Featuring stories by Donald Bingle, etc. . . .

DEADER STILL by Anton Strout
“Following Simon’s adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear.”
-Charlaine Harris, author of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE series.
It’s hard to defeat evil on a budget. Just ask Simon Canderous.

It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does.


UNHOLY by Richard Lee. Byers
I saw something 
than I’ve ever seen before.
Something truly
I understand now what drove Fastrin mad.
Why he was willing to slaughter us all.

The formerly green fields lie in war-torn ruins. The formerly living populace is undead. And the formerly brilliant necromancer, the mastermind behind the civil war that drove the ruling council into exile, appears to have gone insane. But rumor spreads of a reason behind his randomness -- a reason all survivors of Thay must rally against.
Releasing February 3, 2009

CATOPOLIS, Edited by Janet Deaver-Pack
Seventeen original stories about the “city of cats.”
Set in a world that exists on the same plane as humans, yet is hidden from us, CATOPOLIS introduces readers to an assortment of cats, ranging from a feline Seer who must take destiny into her own paws to defeat a dictatorial tomcat a black cat who can call upon the powers of the “big cats” to wage a war against a cat who would be the ins and outs of cat politics and the perils of using mice as a cat burglar looking for a musical treasure for his “boss.”
Featuring stories by Richard Lee Byers, Paul Genesse, Don Bingle, Jean Rabe, Marc Tassin, Elizabeth Vaughan and more.

THE STEPSISTER SCHEME by Jim C. Hines. What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels? What’s delivered is THE STEPSISTER SCHEME—a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. And with Jim C. Hines penning the tale readers can bet it won’t be “and they lived happily ever after.”

“These princesses will give ‘Charlie’s Angels’ a serious run for the money, and leave ‘em in the dust.” –Esther Friesner, author of NOBODY’S PRINCESS
Releasing January 6, 2009

GREENSWORD is a dark comedy about the environment, extremism, stupid criminals, and the lengths to which people will go to avoid getting a real job.

They’re about to save the world; they just don’t want to get caught doing it.
Says Hugo and Nebula Award Winner, Robert J. Sawyer: “Science fiction has always been a great vehicle for biting satire and social commentary­­from H. G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE right on up to Donald Bingle’s engrossing, GREENSWORD, Bingle is a terrific writer.”
Releasing January 21, 2009

DAY TWO: THE WISE MAN’S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune.

In The Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Releasing sometime in the near future. Visit Pat’s blog for all the details.

WHITE STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

The Lady High Priestess Evelyn, known as Evie to her friends, is a healer, dedicated to using her magic in the service of the goddess to aid others and give strength where it is needed. Orrin Blackheart couldn’t be more different. With his black armor, a black name and a blacker reputation, he’s been feared and hated in equal parts. So on his defeat and capture in battle, the Goddesses insistence that Evie saves him from a death sentence astonishes them both—as does the growing attraction between them. But in saving Orrin Evie condemns herself to a prohibition on her magic and a penance posting on the edges of the land, while to retain his salvation Orrin must battle a spreading plague across the land. Fate clearly has plans for them both—but to fulfill them, both must survive the perils ahead.
Releasing April 7, 2009

THE DRAGON HUNTERS, Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series

On this hunt, you give up everything.

The last of an order of dragon hunters must track down the dragon king’s daughter and stop her from getting the Crystal Eye, an ancient artifact that will cause the destruction of their world.

Advance Praise for THE DRAGON HUNTERS:
“Genesse stresses the necessity of trust between races and cultures and the perils of bias and dissention, and he keeps the plot moving quickly . . .”
—Publishers Weekly

“Paul Genesse is a talented writer with two rare gifts: the ability to create wonderful worlds, and the skill to share them with his readers. Through his deft handling of magic and mythic creatures, Paul Genesse transports us into a realm of wild imagining. Taut suspense and fantastic imagery make The Dragon Hunters a tale no fantasy fan will want to miss.”
—Michael A. Stackpole, New York Times bestselling author of the Star Wars novel I, Jedi

Read the first two chapters for free at, isten to a free podcast of Paul reading the book, or watch a video on YouTube.

DEATH MARCH –Jean Rabe. Escaping from the slave pens of a Dark Knight mining camp was no easy feat, but what awaits Direfang, a former hobgoblin slave who has become the reluctant general of a growing goblin army is every bit as perilous.

BLACKSTAFF TOWER—Steven Schend. Young friends stumble across a terrifying conspiracy that holds the heir to the Blackstaff, the defender of the city of Waterdeep, in terrible danger.

IMAGINARY FRIENDS. We’ve all had them. We’ve all needed them. In this fun fantasy anthology, readers are given thirteen variations on what kinds of friends come in handy. Featuring stories by Jean Rabe, Don Bingle, Tim Waggoner, Paul Genesse and Jim C. Hines.

CROSS COUNTY by Tim Waggoner
When surviving gets this hard, death comes easy...

CROSS COUNTY secrets run deep. Settlers first came here hundreds of years ago, taking the land from local tribes sworn to guard its dark secrets. The Cross family now holds the power in the region. When a grisly murderer, hearkening back to a series of killing from years ago, shakes the community, it's up to the local sheriff to get to the bottom of things before it's too late.

Part murder mystery, part supernatural terror, CROSS COUNTY will appeal to fans of Greg Iles and Patricia Cornell, as well as horror fans who love Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

DAGGER-STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

After captivating readers with her CHRONICLE OF THE WARLANDS trilogy, USA Today Bestselling author, Elizabeth Vaughan now returns to that world with a beguiling tale of daggers and destiny, a cold and beautiful mercenary known as Red Gloves, and Josiah, a lone fighter emerging from the torched fields and razed farms of his homeland. All Josiah knows about the mysterious woman is her dagger-star birthmark, a sign that she is destined to free the people from a ruthless usurper's reign of terror.

DAGGER-STAR was released in April from Berkly Sensation. Visit for all the details.

THE GOLDEN CORD, By Paul Genesse. A hunter must leave behind the woman he loves, give up all hope of survival, as he is forced to guide his most hated enemies to the lair of the dragon king.

“The plot is well constructed, the characters are wonderful, and the middle-ages setting creates an ominous feel. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more. BOOK ONE OF THE IRON DRAGON SERIES is a rich and compelling fantasy full of adventure, danger, dragons, battles, revenge, magic, and more.”

“THE GOLDEN CORD is indeed a hellishly good read.”

Watch a video about THE GOLDEN CORD and download the first chapter for free at .
Watch a video about The DRAGON HUNTERS ON, coming soon to the website.

UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS, edited by Julie Czerneda and Jana Paniccia. The Prix Award Winning Anthology featuring SHADOW OF THE SCIMITAR by Janet Deaver-Pack. From the true role of the Freemasons to Chronographers who steal pieces of time to an assassin hired by a group that reweaves the threads of history, here are fourteen imaginative tales of time and space and realms beyond our own-all watched over, preserved, or changed by those who work covertly under cover of darkness.

Writers’ Symposium Members—Visit them on their sites or on the W.S. Blog

Jean Rabe
Paul Genesse
Don Bingle
Brad Beaulieu
Anton Strout
John Helfers
Pat Rothfuss
Luke Johnson
Kelly Swails
Tim Waggoner
Elizabeth Vaughan
Marc Tassin
Richard Lee Byers
Steve Schend
Janet Deaver-Pack
Daniel “Doc” Myers
Sabrina Klein
Kerrie Hughes
Linda Baker
Chris Pierson
Jim C. Hines
Jennifer Brozek
Monica Valentinelli
Gregory A. Wilson

Final Thought

Thank you all for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this issue of the Writers’ Symposium Ezine. I don’t know about you, but the books on my shelf are piling up! With the release of book two of the Iron Dragon Series, The Dragon Hunters, I got a little behind with everything. I’m thrilled to have book two out, and am so thankful for all the readers who helped make book one, The Golden Cord, the bestselling fantasy that Five Star Books has ever had.

Now it’s time to rewrite the manuscript of book three, The Secret Empire. I will definitely keep Monica’s articles in mind, and try to keep it simple as I rewrite. I’m also interested in her idea of picking up a pen when I get stuck on things. There is truth to what she said about going back to the basics, and putting pen to paper. Now all I need is a magic pen . . .

Happy writing!

Paul Genesse, Editor and Author

P.S. Don’t forget to look at the new world-building article by Sabrina Klein at

Thank you for reading the ezine. Please forward it to all your friends interested in writing or reading. Please visit the Writers Symposium Blog for more information on writing—and to interact with the members of the symposium. Thanks again!

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