Friday, February 27, 2009

Writers' Symposium Ezine #6--The Pitch Sessions and Kazoo Issue


The new issue of the Writers' Symposium Ezine is below, or please download the full color PDF at the link below.

For those of you in the Salt Lake area please check out Pod Casting Camp 2009, Friday March 27 at Neumont University in South Jordan, UT.

PodCamp isn't just about podcasting! If you're interested in blogging, social media, social networking, podcasting, video on the net, if you're a podsafe musician (or want to be), or just someone curious about new media, then please join us -- and bring a friend or colleague.

The Writers' Symposium Ezine

"Helping Writers Write"
Issue #6, March 2009
The Pitch Sessions and Kazoo Issue

Attached is a compressed PDF

Or view beautiful full color version with dozens of color pictures by downloading the PDF with all the good stuff and the previous issues at

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From the Editor: Paul Genesse
Featured Author Bio: Donald J. Bingle
Featured Content: Kazoos, Parliamentary Debate, Neo-Psychophysics, and Writing by Don Bingle
Featured Content: Face to Face Pitch Sessions by Janet Deaver-Pack
New Releases from Writers' Symposium Members
Current Releases From the Writers' Symposium
List of Current Writers' Symposium Members & Contact Info
Final Thought

From the Editor

A writer's success often hinges on a pitch. Those few words you speak to an editor or agent determines your fate. Or rather, it determines if they will let you send them your work. It will also sell your book to potential readers. Coming up with a pitch is critical and the serious writers often find themselves at writing conventions pitching their novels or stories to editors.
In this issue, you'll find a detailed article on pitching your work by Janet Deaver-Pack. You'll also find a piece by the featured author, Don Bingle, that elucidates his journey to becoming a very successful short story writer and novelist. Who knew that the world's largest kazoo would be so important?

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

Featured Author: Donald J. Bingle

Donald J. Bingle, a Chicago attorney, is so committed to the environment that he arranged to be born on Earth Day sixteen years before it was even founded. He is also the published author of two novels and more than twenty pieces of short fiction in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comedy genres. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the International Association on of Media Tie-In Writers, and the St. Charles Writers Group. He was also the world's top-ranked role-playing gamer for more than fifteen years. For full details about his writing and gaming, see his website at

He is available for interviews, seminars, readings, signings, writing panels, and book club chats. Contact him at

Comment on the article on the Writers' Symposium Blog:

Featured Content: Kazoos, Parliamentary Debate, Neo-Psychophysics, and Writing by Don Bingle

So, how did I get here?
More precisely, how did a mild-mannered corporate and securities attorney end up writing short stories and screenplays? Sure, I was a Thespian in high school, but so were plenty of people, and even though they hung out with the theater crowd way back when, they gravitated into rather ordinary, non-creative lives once they grew up. It's hard to say. It may have been the kazoos.
You see, when I was in high school, a friend and I created the Greater Naperville Area Magumba Marching All Kazoo Klan Band. It caught on with our friends and soon we were marching in parades, electing a Kazoo Queen, and doing the Stars and Stripes Forever in four-part harmony. Like many silly things, it probably would have ended in high school if it wasn't for the poster I saw at Student Activities Night during Orientation week at The University of Chicago.
"Wanted: Keeper for the World's Largest Kazoo."
Back when U of C was in the Big Ten, they had the World's Largest Drum, Big Bertha. But then, the University President, William Rainey Harper, declared football antithetical to everything a university stood for (this is the man quoted as saying "Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes.") and dropped out of organized college football. The University of Texas acquired the drum and, last I heard, was still using it.
Well, in the late sixties, U of C started playing football again, so some students from the Students for Violent Non-Action (I'm not making this up!) went down to Texas and stole the drum to drive it onto the field at the first game (not at half-time, just when they happened to arrive being pursued by the cops).
Since they had to return the drum to Texas, they decided that they had to have the world's largest something, and so they created the World's Largest Kazoo and named it Big Ed, after then-University President Ed Levi, who would later become United States Attorney General. They built a giant kazoo, handed out specially-made fezzes at games, and cavorted about, playing "Ode to Joy" whenever the team got a first down, which wasn't very often (the team scored 14 points my sophomore year). Anyhow, I entered the scene several years later, when the instigators of Big Ed had graduated and, indeed, the Student Activities office was looking for a new Keeper.

They were a bit nonplussed when I asked to apply for the job, scrambling to find a University employment form in which I dutifully recorded the highlights of my past kazoo experience. I got the (non-paying) job. I'm not sure anyone else really wanted it. A few weeks later, my picture appeared in Sports Illustrated - leading the U of C Kazoo Band Fez Faction at halftime at some poorly-attended game. Apparently high school craziness would continue in college.
Silliness did not, however, remain confined to football games. Having been in forensics in high school, I sought out the debate team. They immediately put me to work carrying a sandwich-board around campus advertising a public debate. The topic: "Justice may be blind, but she hasn't lost her sense of taste."
Far from the boring rapid-patter index card reading of the usual national-topic debate (you know, the kind where you debate all year whether the federal government should provide a comprehensive program for this or that), U of C was on the parliamentary debate circuit. In this kind of debate, the topic changes every round, you have (depending on the tournament) somewhere between 30 seconds and 30 minutes from the time you get the topic to begin speaking, and the Affirmative team is known as the Government and may place the debate anywhere and anytime they want in some parliamentary body: Congress, the College of Cardinals, or whatever. The topics were varied and, frankly, weird and subject to a lot of interpretation. Best of all, heckling was allowed, just like in Canadian and British Parliament.
I tended to specialize in really off-the-wall interpretations of topics and delighted in setting the debate so as to disadvantage my opponents. Things like setting the debate in German parliament between the wars, with our team being the moderates and identifying the Negative Team (known as the Opposition) as the Nazis or somesuch. It was, in essence, roleplaying debate. I enjoyed it, was reasonably good at it, and later coached it while I was in law school. As coach I somehow managed to snag a trophy as an audience member at a tournament at the University of Illinois for a barrage of heckles during a final round.

Of course, I thought the silliness would end once I took my bar exam. Law firms are pretty stuffy places. That was when my much younger brother introduced me to roleplaying games, you know, like Dungeons and Dragons. Over the next twenty-five years (wow!) I played dwarves, elves, kender, paranoid clones, Ewoks, Wookies, princesses, thieves, archeologists, wizards, adventurers, animals, lycanthropes, and even a bug and a sword, mostly in RPGA sanctioned tournaments, becoming the top-ranked player of classic tournaments.

That led to writing tournaments for the Dungeons & Dragons, Paranoia, Chill, Timemaster, Bond, Dream Park, and Battle Cattle game systems. That got me into writing product for publication for many of the same systems. I also bought the rights to the Timemaster roleplaying game system (you can still buy a copy of the game at and did a number of things for it, including inventing a fake science, neo-psychophysics, to explain the natural time-travel capability of the Demorean race.

In the meantime, I had headed off to become General Counsel of Boston Chicken (during its successful period). My highly tolerant employer (I negotiated getting GenCon off every year before I accepted the job) delighted in my extra-curricular writing and encouraged me further by letting me write skits for the annual holiday party and emcee things like franchise development award presentations and Chili cook-offs with top ten lists and other stuff.

So, when I left that job, I jumped into writing in a bigger way: movie reviews for Knights of the Dinner Table (you can find those and others at, a screenplay (“For Queen and Queenie,” last seen leaving Jim Carrey’s agent’s office with a recommendation to Jim Carrey’s manager), and a short story that actually grew out of the whole neopsychophysics thing and was a meld of science fiction and theology. With a few changes and a lot of placing assistance from Jean Rabe, it became my first published short story, “Elemental Conversation”.

Others followed, including a Dragonlance story (kender + glaciers + a fear of hypothermia) and even a novella (yet to actually come out, but sold all the same). You can see my full writing resume' at I even did a treatment for a science fiction/psychologically-oriented television series and, yes, managed to work in neo-psychophysics.
"Elemental Conversation" was really the last time I did a short story on spec (i.e., without a request for a story on a given topic). Instead, I have found a way to revisit the old days of parliamentary debate. If you tell me you need a civil war story or a cat mystery or a celebrity ghost story, I sit down and write one, using the same technique we used for parliamentary debate - find an odd twist on the topic and go from there.
That brings us to this Carnival, for which Jean told me she needed a spooky story about a macabre carnival. I didn't want to do anything about clowns or carnies or the midway games or rides-I figured everybody else would be doing that. So I tried to think about something about carnivals that nobody tended to write about. The one thing that I could think of that carnivals had in abundance that was pretty much ignored was canvas, lots and lots of canvas. From there, it was a simple move to thinking up something spooky about canvas and a main character that would care about that aspect of canvas.
Stealing from my own history, I started out the story with that character painting a cigar box - a cigar box much like the one I painted as a kid and, believe it or not, sits to this day on my bookcase.
Since my story was submitted to Carnival, I finished my second screenplay, "Extreme Global Warming." You can find out more about it at or And if you just happen to know a famous Hollywood producer or agent or just somebody with a whole lot of money who has a soft spot for authors who play kazoos, debate parliamentary style, create fake sciences, or play role-playing games, feel free to pass the website on to them. They might want to make the movie.
Hey, stranger things have happened.

Visit Don online at:


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

From the American Library Association's Booklist: "A novel about three slacker environmentalists may seem an unlikely vehicle for edge-of-the-seat suspense, yet Bingle's satirical ecoterrorist thriller just might haunt readers' nightmares for days. Zeke, Milo, and Brandon are twentysomething conservationists whose only claim to fame, aside from a little TV footage spotlighting their faltering environmentalist organization, GreensWord, is their dubious relationship to action movie star Matthew Barrington. Desperate to save his lavish Malibu beachfront property from global-warming-induced surf damage, Barrington cuts GreensWord a million-dollar check, stipulating that its recipients do something about the ecological crisis immediately. Their ensuing, hare-brained schemes to put the money to good use only generate legal woes until they hit upon one that seems fool-proof: purchasing a rogue Russian nuclear warhead and smuggling it into a cave at the base of Mount Rainier. With a detonation that triggers massive volcanic eruptions and atmospheric ash, global warming will come to a halt. Needless to say, nothing goes quite as planned, and Bingle's storytelling acumen makes the scenario all too chillingly plausible."-- Carl Hays

From Library Journal: "Zeke, Milo, and Brandon, members of a tiny ecoprotest group called GreensWord, aim to stop global warming before the beach house of their prime (and only) benefactor, actor Matthew Barrington, slides into the ocean. When Barrington threatens to cut off their funding, the enterprising trio steps up its timetable and changes its agenda from painting ... roofs ... white to deflect the sun's heat to a plan that rivals the worst nightmares of everyone living in the nuclear age. The author of Forced Conversion demonstrates his talent for dark comedy in the style of Kurt Vonnegut and Victor Gischler. Bingle takes aim at both sides of the global warming controversy, addressing global complexities in comedic trappings for a cautionary tale that belongs in most libraries."
Says Joseph A. Morris, conservative political commentator: "Donald Bingle's GREENSWORD is great science fiction, but it is also raucous political satire. With irony and wit worthy of Jonathan Swift, he exposes the fundamental conceit that drives extremists of all kinds: Absolute conviction that all the accumulated, hard-earned, wisdom of the past is nothing in comparison with the light bulb that just went off in their heads. Bingle is a master story-teller and his stories are worth telling."


GREENSWORD is a book about extreme global warming written by an author so committed to the environment that he arranged to be born on Earth Day sixteen years before it was even founded. So, it's appropriate for this site to have a GREENSWORD Earth Day Contest. Here's the details:
To enter, just forward to me by email (with the words "GREENSWORD Earth Day Contest" in the subject line) at evidence of one of the following:
(1) that you have successfully persuaded your local/school library to obtain GREENSWORD: A Tale of Extreme Global Warming; (2) that GREENSWORD is being used as part of your library's/school's/community's/company's/organization's Earth Day display/promotion/teach-in/activities, (3) that your book club/group is reading GREENSWORD; and/or (4) you have posted a thoughtful/substantive review of GREENSWORD on a internet book store, book review, science fiction, environmental, global warming, social networking, writing, or similar site.

Only the first entry for any qualifying library, activity, book club, or review will be counted. Qualification of any entry is conditioned upon the subjective judgment of Donald J. Bingle, as judge, that it meets the conditions of the contest. All decisions of the judge are final. Contest ends April 30, 2009. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning dependent on number of entries received. No purchase necessary. Your mileage may vary. Open only to those 18 years of age and older. Please do not spam. The site and the author disclaim any responsibility for acts of contest participants. By submitting an entry, you release Donald J. Bingle, this site, and the publisher of GREENSWORD from any liability in connection with this contest or the book and indemnify them for any activity by you in connection with this contest or the book. A single winner will be randomly chosen from all qualifying entries.
The winner will be announced in May 2009 and will receive his/her choice of:
A. A rare advance reading copy of GREENSWORD, signed by the author.
B. A copy of Don's earlier novel, Forced Conversion, signed by the author.
C. A sign copy of an anthology of his/her choice in which Don has a short story in.
D. Subject to scheduling, Don's participation in a telephonic book group discussion of GREENSWORD. (Up to one hour; phone arrangements at winner's expense.)

Face to Face Pitch Sessions by Janet Deaver-Pack By Janet Deaver-Pack

Pitch sessions are one of the best ways a writer can present his or her work to an editor or publisher. It is a query accomplished without paper. It therefore cannot get lost in the mail, caught in a fire, or misplaced on someone's desk.

Pitch sessions are a bit scary and peculiar because they're so immediate. The words you lay in front of the editor to represent your work have to be concise, pointed, and deliberate. There is nothing but a little atmosphere between you and the person who might publish your book. The editor can see you seated across the table or in a nearby chair, look into your eyes, consider your determination, and assess you as an author at the same time he or she is digesting the information you're providing about your work.

My co-author Bruce Heard and I had previously pitched our idea of an Italian Renaissance adventure-fantasy to one of my long-time editor friends during WindyCon in 2007. That editor's reaction was "Sounds good. Send it to the big houses." So we spent a year writing the book, hoping to interest someone in it after completing the manuscript.

We journeyed to WindyCon 2008 just after finishing The Lord Protectors of Spire on the promise of my editor friend's getting us an introduction to the convention's Guest of Honor, a major editor/publisher. Several of us gathered in a hallway awaiting her exit from a morning panel. Even though she obviously didn't want to meet authors at that particular moment, she graciously invited Bruce and me to a pitch session already scheduled at 2 p.m. in the bar of the hotel. Included were my editor friend and another author.

It seems that much business gets done during conventions in hotel bars, which was a fact explained to me long ago by Margaret Weis. And the timing was perfect--we had a few hours in which to prepare. Bruce and I retired to our room to do what we could to plan our part of the session.

Those of you who are acquainted with Bruce know he's extraordinarily organized. (He has to be-he worked for 15 years as Acquisitions Manager for TSR, coordinating creatives and getting projects finished and to customers on time.) Considering this fact, I designated him to lead the pitch. After all, he was the one who determined all the nitty details I didn't think of about our book, such as how many people live in our fictional city Spire. He also made the detailed map we wrote from, and kept the project moving ahead when I would have lagged to consider details or do my taxes. Bruce loves Spire and its characters almost as much as he loves his own birthplace and family. The force of that love shows every time he talks about our book.

Knowing I can sometimes get derailed during discussions or by questions that startle me, I felt that he was the best of the two of us to describe our project to the editor/publisher. Bruce could use his ability to meet important people on even ground and present detailed facts rather than my more emotional and likely less cohesive rendition of the project.

Bruce accepted the challenge. We had brought along our laptop computer loaded with the first few chapters, the synopsis, and the character descriptions from our book. Bruce read through all of these before the session just to make sure of the correct details. I tried not to get nervous, and thought about what I could say that might support him.

We got to the session a bit early, and had to wait for everyone else to arrive. We chose a table and sat down. One by one, the other author who was pitching a book based in a prehistoric setting, my friend the editor, and the editor/publisher arrived. My editor friend opened the session, conducting a little business he'd told us about previously, then making his own pitch. The editor/publisher liked what he said. Then, to my great surprise, she turned to Bruce and me. "Now tell me about your book."

There it was, hanging in the space between us: polite but guarded interest. I sucked in a breath and crossed all my fingers beneath the table as Bruce launched into an overview of the plot, the characters, and the city. I did what I could to add a few details during his descriptions. Bruce seemed to ignore everyone else on the other side of the table. He targeted the editor/publisher, leaning forward, his blue eyes sparkling, animation enlivening his descriptions. You could see Spire's streets and the characters that peopled them come to life as he talked.

We could tell the editor/publisher was intrigued with our book, but she needed some tough questions answered before she made a decision. When Bruce told her about our heroes saving the city, she asked, "But is the city worth saving?" That one would have made me sit back and think. But Bruce was right there with an answer. "Of course," he answered, smiling. "The city is very well worth saving." Then he proceeded to tell her three or four reasons why.

Suddenly, it was over. The editor/publisher stopped her questions, thought for ten seconds in silence, and nodded. "I'm interested." She dug in a pocket for her business card. "Email it to me. But be aware that it's going to be six months before I can get to it."

I was stunned. I thought we were going to have to do much more persuading. Had I heard her correctly? Was this the end of it? Had she actually said the magic words, "Email it"?

The editor/publisher then turned to the other author and asked about his project. I gathered my control and listened hard to his pitch, measuring it against ours. He spoke for about tem minutes, including a rant about how other authors writing in this time period mis-described animals. She interrupted him. "I like your premise, but I don't think that's for us."

Heavens, we'd done it. All of us sat around the table for a little while longer, exchanging pleasantries, then the editor/publisher had to leave for her next panel. The other author was not happy. Bruce and I were ecstatic.

Here are some of the major points I learned during that pitch session:

1. Know your setting, your characters, and the situations involved backward, forward, and upside-down.

2. Express confidence in your work, but not to the extent of conceit. Don't go into a pitch session with an attitude of "Of course this editor has to love my work-after all, I've been published", or "I've written plays that were produced onstage", or "Several of my scripts were accepted for television." Your attitude says a lot about how you approach writing, and how you approach people. It makes a difference. An editor wants someone he or she can work with, not a prima donna or primo don.

3. Be respectful, friendly, positive, and above all, professional.

4. Be enthused but controlled about your project.

5. Target the person to whom you're pitching.

6. Do not denigrate another author for having erroneous descriptions, particularly if that author is successful. It's even worse if the denigrated author is published by the company you're pitching to.

7. Stay on the subject of your work. Don't allow yourself to detour from it.

8. Be able to answer questions without hesitation. Bruce had an answer for each of the editor/publisher's questions about our project. He laid the answers in front of her with reason, certitude, and love for our book pervading his words. I think this made the greatest difference in the session: it meant that Bruce was ready for her, knew his subject, and wasn't surprised by anything she asked.

9. If you have a co-author, consider designating one of you to lead the session, and the other to support that lead. In this way, you're not overwhelming the person to whom you're pitching. Too, by doing this there's less chance of one wanting to say "No, that's not right. It's like this." A concerted partnership is what you need to project for a successful pitch. Any divisions appreciable during the session might suggest arguments that could later rip the association, and the project, apart.

10. Do exactly what the person you're pitching to tells you to do. If she or he wants it emailed followed by a hardcopy, take those instructions to heart. Don't squander your time, or that of the publisher, by missing details. The person you're pitching to may be making this a little test to see how well you pay attention.

Bruce still laughs about my reaction to the editor/publisher's willingness to look at our book. He said that, even though I said nothing, my excitement over her interest made it seem if every light bulb in the entire hotel went on at the same moment.

Our pitch session was a small success. Now we wait for the editor/publisher's reaction to our 125,000 word Italian Renaissance adventure-fantasy.

Sigh. May 2009 seems such a long time to wait.

New Novels and Stories by Symposium Authors

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.

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.

Read the first two chapters for free at

Writers' Symposium Member Current Releases

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."

". . . promises to unlock a realm of magic and warfare in a unique world of cloud-bound lands and a mysterious Underworld."

"THE GOLDEN CORD is indeed a hellishly good read."

Watch a video about THE GOLDEN CORD and download the first chapter for free at .

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

Download the list with any of the PDF's. Thank you.

Final Thought

I blundered through the first years of my writing career and had little clue about how to get an editor or agent interested. It was at the Pike's Peak Writers Conference when I had my first pitch session with a big time New York editor. The total face time was to be less than five minutes. It was stressful and I screwed it up. I had already interested her with a reading I had done that day, but I pitched a different book than I had read earlier. Stupid.

Also, my log line, or pitch line, was not good enough. That conference taught me the importance of pitch lines, thirty words or less. I worked hard on mine. Since then, editors and agents have been a lot more interested. Now, work hard on coming up with a great pitch line and practice it until you can say it perfectly. Then do what Janet's article said to do. In the meantime, put down the kazoo and write a good book.

Paul Genesse, editor

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