Widdershins Writerly News

I have a guest post at The Writers Chatroom  blog, titled, ‘Losing your W.O.O.’ . Where, not only do I wax eloquent, I also have a book giveaway. If you leave a comment you’ll go into a draw for a paperback copy of Mortal Instinct’. To be drawn in the Writers Chatroom chat on Wednesday 3rd November.


I’ve finished Episode 1 of my blog serial, ‘Identical’. All that’s left to do is a line edit (or two, or five) then I’ll post it next Friday, 28th.

All comments welcome.


And … a spot of World Writerly News:

Registration closes on 30th September for the free Muse Online Writers Conference. Which runs from 8th to the 14th October.

I pitched my novel to my publisher at the conference a couple of years ago, and look at me now!

There are forums, workshops, pitch sessions, and chats galore.


“it would be a bitter cosmic joke if we destroy ourselves due to atrophy of the imagination” Martha Gellhorn, 1908-1998 – journalist and novelist.



The Accidental Panelist


I’m a panelist.

Did’ja ever sign up to play with some new kids and find out that you were getting more than you bargained for?

Because time, money, and distance, often make it impractical for me to play at a lot of conferences/festivals in the US, I seek out the on-line variety.

There was the short-lived-but-now-defunct, awesome Coyote-Con. (where I met quite a few of my ‘frogs’ **) The also awesome and eternal, and free, Muse Conference, (which is happening on 8th–14th October) where I pitched my book and landed a contract. And I think there’s one floating around for romance writers, and one for children’s writers. (Clar, do you know anything about that one?)

By means various and convoluted, (translation: I can’t remember) I came across the Bards and Sages  eFestival of Words – Virtual Book Fair.  I registered, and although the process seemed a bit more complex than usual, I thought nothing of it … until just the other day, when I received an email with ‘Preliminary Questions for Panelists’ in the subject line.

So, I am a panelist on the “Why We Love To See The Future Crumble Into Ash” forum, about post-apocalyptical stories.

… tomorrow!

…at 7pm EST!

… I have a list of questions to respond to!

… I am a panelist!

Thank you Cheezburgerz

If you’re interested, it’s still possible to register even though the festival has started – don’t worry, you won’t end up a panelist!

** frogs – friends on blogs.


“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” Alan Watts, 1915-1973 – Philosopher



… and, because it’s too cyoot to leave out…

Another Cheezeburger


Meet Me at the Con

Just about every person and their animal-companion-of-choice who attended the MuseCon last week has written a blog post about by now. So rather than clog up the interwebz even more with my piece of the pie, I had planned to mention it one more time in passing and then move on … however, the best laid plans of meeces and lesbians …

In the comments of my last post,  S.P Bowers asked:

“I’ve been hearing about online conferences lately. Do you think they are as useful as regular conferences for networking and socializing purposes? How do they work? Are you all in a chat room together? Is it at specific times or can you work it around your schedule a little? Sorry if that’s a lot of questions. I’ve wanted to do some but am not sure what to expect.”

I’ve attended 3 online conferences. Last year’s Muse Online Writers Conference, and the one just finished, and last year’s CoyoteCon. (which is now, unfortunately, defunct as far as I know. The website has been taken over by spammers and other primordial pond scum, and no-one answers my emails to the organisers) Both conferences were US based.

 I’ll just give a brief overview of the two and hopefully incorporate my answers to S.P.’s questions at the same time.

CoyoteCon ran on consecutive weekends throughout August 2010, and was chat based. A moderator would introduce the guest speaker who would either do a brief presentation and open the floor to questions or go straight to the questions. All the chats were listed on the website with a brief description. For those who didn’t make the chat for various reasons, a transcript was posted on the site. Some of the presenters also made handouts of their workshops available to attendees, which the presenters then talked to during the chat.

This enabled a much faster exchange of ideas, and communication between the presenters and attendees.

The down-side of this type of conference is that you are tied in to the times set for the chats. 5pm EST (US time) might be great but if you’re anywhere else in the world it could be troublesome. The transcripts may have the information, but it’s not the same as being there.

The Muse (for short) is primarily forum based, with some scheduled chats by presenters and chats for pitches. (I believe there was also a casual chat ‘lounge’ but I didn’t know it was there until after the ball was over!)

The forums were as short as one day workshops or ran all week long. The presenter created several threads depending on what format they chose, and also made handouts and/or workbooks available to download. The attendees could read, comment, and participate in the workshops as their time permitted without feeling that they had missed out on anything.

There were also forums available for the attendees to exchange information between themselves.

The down side? Unless the presenter had scheduled a chat, there was no way for the attendees to a particular workshop to get together in real-time and discuss stuff, or socialize. (unless they organised something themselves)

Both types of conferences also allowed private messages to be sent between attendees.

As with just about any kind of conference on just about anything, you get out what you put in.

My first time at Muse I wanted to do every workshop that held even the vaguest interest for me … and spread myself too thin, didn’t really get into anything and felt exhausted at the end anyway. This year I focused on a few workshops and got a great deal out of them plus a couple of new friendships.

At Coyote I realized that the free-flowing nature of the chat format meant that although there was a set subject, the instant communication aspect enabled all sorts of other information to be introduced. (the moderators kept the discussions on track, but sometimes it was like herding cats! – not necessarily a bad thing) … So, because I had the time I decided to at least listen in on all the chats, and even the ones that I had really no interest in, and I always learned something useful. It didn’t hurt that ‘Widdershins’ thereby kept a very high profile all conference long!

Apart from the obvious, one of the big differences between online and geographical conferences in terms of one-to-one interactions, is you’re not going to just bump into someone and introduce yourself as you hand them a paper towel to wipe off the drink you just spilled.

In an online conference you will have to actively reach out and engage with others, to network, to socialise. Send them a personal message, invite comments to whatever you might’ve posted, deliberately participate in the workshops. ‘Lurkers’ are welcome but unless you speak out, no-one will ‘see’ or know you are there.

Muse provides workshops and information events throughout the year, so keep it in mind as a way to see how the whole concept works.

The Muse conference is free, and I firmly believe in a fair exchange of energy so, foolishly or not, it remains to be seen, I volunteered to be a moderator next year. I’ll let you know how the view from the other side of the interface looks, throughout the coming year.


“ … a workshop is where you do actually get feedback on your work, not just something where you go and sit for a day”Octavia Butler

Mortal Instinct now out in Paperback

Mortal Instinct at Amazon.com …at last!

I have a head-cold. I think someone sneezed on me at the Muse Online Writers Conference and gave me a virus. They’re obviously not for computers alone!

Last year was my first time at the conference, and I made the mistake of signing up for everything that caught my attention. It wasn’t a bad idea in theory, but I ended up spreading myself so thin that I didn’t have enough energy left over to go into any depth with them. This year I culled my wish-list down to 2 major workshops and 3 that I played catch-up with.

It was much more manageable and I’ve come away with a lot of useful stuff that I’ll not only remember, but also put into practice. Some of which will be reflected on this site. I’m going to add another page or two, and improve the layout of the existing ones. Nothing major, just tweaking. I’m not in a hurry though, one shouldn’t rush these things.

There were some wonderful things about this Conference, it was free, and I could attend in my jammies! Both very important considerations for writers. I made some great connections and networked my little tutu off.

But for now, I’m going to have some of Mrs Widdershins wonderful leftover turkey soup ( it was Thanksgiving here in Canada, last weekend) and fall over into bed.

I shall be full of vim and vigour next time we meet.


“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than cabbage, concludes that they will also make better soup”H. L. Mencken

Addendum IV

This is another one of those addendum things I warned you about. They tend to appear at the beginning of each month.

I am playing over at the Muse Online Writers Conference this week. Registrations have closed now that the conference has started, but bookmark it for next year. It’ll be worth it. And best of all, it’s free!

For those bemoaning the demise of the English language – you’re not alone, either historically or quantitatively.

 And just to show who really rules: Koalas


Completely off track but perfect anyway. Dog Day Downer


“Ever wonder where you’d end up if you took your dog for a walk and never once pulled back on the leash?” -Robert Brault