Wednesday, April 22, 2015

At a Writer's Conference? Suggestions for Making Small Talk

This weekend, April 24-26, 2015, the Wisconsin Romance Writers are hosting the 2015 Write Touch Conference at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, featuring Mary Buckham, who will give a workshop called, “Down and Dirty Ways to Create Stronger Characters.” Also there will be many agents, writers and editors like: Jade Lee, Cindy Dees, Damon Suede, Jessica Sinsheimer, Shauna Summers, Candace Havens, Nicole Resciniti, Sara Megibow, and Mary Altman.

Mary Buckham

I’m looking forward to attending and meeting everyone, but at the same time, I’m shy and I can be a little socially awkward. In the hopes of helping myself as well as others, I’ve decided to research and post thirteen writing conference conversation starters.

     1. What’s your favorite book?
2. Do you write? What would you love to have your writing compared to?
3. What sessions are you looking forward to the most?
4. Who is your favorite author?
5. What have you read recently? Why did you like or dislike it?
6. What’s the best thing you've discovered at this conference so far?
7. Why did you decide to come to this conference?
8. Where’s the bathroom? (This is probably not the best opener, but at least I’ll get an “I don’t know” response.)
9. Did you attend _____'s talk? What was your take-away?
10. Would you like a glass of water? Cup of coffee?
11. What’s your favorite day of the week? Why?
12. Do you like pets?
13. Do you write? What are you working on?

Okay, I think I’m almost ready to (gulp) chat up new people, but if you can think of any other good conversation openers, please leave them in the comments.

I’d appreciate the advice. Thanks.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Future Picks—What would you like to read?

People who read my blog often know I’m always on the hunt for something new to read. I’m positively addicted to a good story. With that in mind, I’ve been studying the Twitter hash tag MSWL, manuscript wish list, and imagining which new tales I might devour.

At Twitter’s #MSWL, agents, editors, publishers and other literary professionals detail what they’d like to see.

Here are thirteen I’d love to read.

  1. Veronica Park @VeroniKaboom  Mar 18 I love awkwardness, wit, and barely-there romances I can ship. #MSWL
  2. Garrett Marco @garrett_marco · Feb 18
Steamy Fantasy Romance. The three best words. #MSWL 
  1. Jennifer Azantian @jenazantian · Mar 3
I'd love to see some fantasy that plays at the edges of our world. Think @neilhimself 's AMERICAN GODS or NEVERWHERE. #MSWL
  1. Susan Hawk: A MG mystery or detective novel, especially with a historical element. Think FROM THE MIXED UP FILES or CHASING VERMEER.  Fast-paced, with complex characters. 
  2. Erin Harris @ErinHarrisFolio · Mar 6
#MSWL I want a beautifully written YA fantasy with great world building, in the vein of Red Queen and The Darkest Part of the Forest!
  1. Brian Geffen @Brian_Geffen  Mar 27
#MSWL Dark, dangerous, gritty YA that pulls no punches. Thrillers and mysteries in particular. A bit of strangeness is also welcome.
  1. Talia Benamy @taliabenamy  Mar 27 Do you have any books with awesome girl protagonists who break gender stereotypes? Send them my way!
  2. Uwe Stender @UweStender  Apr 4 I found 4 truly funny YA/MG manuscripts in 3 years. But I want to laugh more. Humor, wit, and great writing is my dream team. #MSWL
  3. #MSWLLaura Zats @LZats  Apr 2
#MSWL lighthearted SF for adults
  1.  Angela James @angelajames · Feb 23
I am *incredibly* interested in acquiring, publishing & building a shifter-focused paranormal romance series. I still want PNR!!#MSWL
  1. Michelle Witte @michellewitte · Feb 18
Anything that can be described as: gothic, creepy, eerie, spooky, sinister, surreal. Related: weird, odd, strange, bizarre, quirky. #MSWL
  1. Kathleen Rushall @KatRushall · Feb 18
Got a diverse or multicultural YA fantasy w/ beautiful writing, strong world-building and a kickass voice? I'm your girl.#MSWL
  1. Stacey Friedberg @StaceyFriedberg  Apr 1
I am aching for a beautifully written, super creepy YA or MG. Serious cravings, you guys! #mswl

What do think? Do any of the ideas sound like novels you’d like to read? What would you like to see? Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Defense of the Info Dump

By Elizabeth MS Flynn w/a Eilis Flynn

Info dumps are BAD. That’s what we’re always told. Certainly they can slow down the story and even confuse the reader, but let’s face it, sometimes you NEED info dumps. Info dumps are an unwelcome but necessary part of storytelling, you know? Certainly in a story that’s not contemporary; if it’s not the contemporary setting you see around you, you have to set the scene, and if you’re dealing with the historical past (or even the prehistorical past or even the posthistorical past), the futuristic future, and the fantastical futuristic past or alt-past or…well, anyway. If it’s not the in the here and now, some info dumping is necessary.

What kind of info dumping is necessary, you ask? Good question! (Well, it should be a good question, because I am in essence talking to myself, or arguing with myself. And if I lose an argument with myself, I should worry. But that’s neither here nor there.) An imparting of information that sets a scene that’s not necessarily the easiest to understand right off the bat isn’t a dumping of information; it’s the quickest and most effective method by which to set the scene. You just can’t overdo it.

What’s overdoing it? Some people will tell you that overdoing it is when you get a little too enthusiastic about your topic and start pontificating. You risk immediately losing your intended audience that way. Just because you’re fascinated by the button detail of your hero’s boots doesn’t mean that anyone else will be. Your audience may be impressed to a certain point, but after they wake up after being lulled into a doze after the information about the button detail, they may decide that some other activity not involving button detail may be a better use of their time.

And that, of course, is the key. Make sure that there IS no better use of their time. I don’t mean sabotaging everything within the reach of each and every single of your readers, but make sure that all those details, all those info dumps, matter to your overall story. How do you know what truly matters to the story? That’s up to you!

If you’re curious about when and how to deal with the info dump, check out Heather Hiestand’s and my online workshop for the Futuristic Fantasy and Paranormal chapter ( and join in the discussion as we look at what’s an unnecessary info dump and what’s a necessary one!

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at and reached at If you’re curious about her books, check out In any case, she can be reached at