D. Pat Thomas

Writer, Yoga Teacher, Lover of Things Outdoors


Quills 2021

Posted by Pat on September 10, 2021 at 4:00 PM

Quills is the annual conference of the League of Utah Writers. And what a delight it was to reunite, inspire and motivate each other, and listen to advice from those with more experience. The array of subjects covered was vast and eclectic: science fiction, weaponry, independent publishing, travel & eavesdropping, romantic sizzle, branding and comedy, for example.

It is a fundamental truth that writers work alone. No one can share a keyboard or mouse when a scene is being drafted. We have beta readers and critique groups to comment and help, but at the end of the day each gesture of a character, every word chosen, when and how it is written – only the writer working alone can decide these things. This is why Quills has a quiet room for the introvert who gets overwhelmed by busy corridors and rising human voices. That said, there can be too much of a good thing, and many of us had an overload of isolation coming into Quills this year. The joy of being able to chat and laugh and listen was deep and healing.

Writers predictably take notes when attending a conference. When I reviewed mine, one comment stuck out: “The reason to write is allow the reader to process emotions.” Let’s think about that. It is not unusual for a writer to create characters or scenes to process his or her own emotions, to get it out, let it go. In sharing the human experience, the writer evokes in the reader parallel emotional reactions. The feelings, like the ringing of a tuning fork, vibrate in the reader as well. It is a shared experience, a bond. If nothing else, we learned during quarantine that the need to share the human experience is not only deep; it is at the core of who and what we are. Appreciating this truth and its resonance between and among us, made Quills 2021 a towering canyon where the echoes amongst us crystallized and could be clearly heard. Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make this conference the success that it was.


Seriously Good News For Writers

Posted by Pat on October 24, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Lehua Parker writes (among other things) young adult fiction taking place in Hawaii. She recently presented on the subject of social media at the Utah League of Writers Fall Conference, and shared with us the rather amazing and horrifying statistic that less than 1% of books are sold through social media. Yes, and she has verified this carefully. Those of us attempting to learn the business at various conferences and such have been repeated admonished that you must constantly update your website, and your Facebook page, and your accounts with Twitter, Instagram and Google - Plus, in addition to blogging on everyone else's site whenever given the opportunity. We writers pale at these demands, wondering how anyone could ever do all this and still have time to write.

Lehua does not pretend that writers can happily ignore all social media and focus exclusively on writing, but she does give some stunning and joyful advice: you can reduce time spent on social media to around 15 minutes a day and go back to writing. Ha!

You must have a website so your prospective agents and publishers can find out more about you. Your site can also connect you with other writers, and these connections can lead to valuable opportunities, such as speaking engagements. Lehua has me convinced that the best road to success is writing more books.

So if you're like me, an average of 15 minutes a day for social media is a darned interesting concept. Obviously such an approach means you have to be well nailed down in terms of organization and priorities. So here's what Lehua suggests:

Update your Facebook page, once a week is minimum, three times a week is better but two times a week is okay. Use your blog post when you have a new one.

Blog at least two times a month. Need subject matter? Do a book review or interview an author. Or maybe interview a character from your book or someone else's. Put cool facts and pictures on your blog, things people would not ordinarily know or see. Know what your blog is for. Is it to help other writers? Or is it an extension of yourself? Put some of your fiction in there. Talk about what interests you. The blog post should be about 300 words and should have lots of tags so folks can find you.

You can always do more. If you write for teens, you'll need to have accounts with Instagram and Google+, but since they view Facebook as outdated, you can adjust your time accordingly. You only need to go onto Pinterest if your work is heavy into style issues, like cooking or decorating.

Lehua is my new heroine. You can find her blog site at www.lehuaparker.com. Hers is the best news I've had in a long time about writer platforms. We love you, Lehua!

Whew! Now to go write something...................


Utah Talent Unites

Posted by Pat on

The League of Utah Writer’s Fall Conference is a gathering of uncommonly talented writers. The field is heavy with fantasy and science fiction authors, but a smattering of folks who write thrillers, memoir, horror and other genres make the group diverse and interesting.

A recurring theme was the importance of story structure. We should start in the middle of our stories, build an arc into every relationship, hide the problem from the protagonist, strain relationships and never let the final plan lead to the final solution. Betrayal is always good. We should view our audience as a particular person and write for him/her.

More pointers: conversation is always combat, in every single line. The stakes become more complicated as the story intensifies. For example: the press learns, the victory is not pure, a dog or child becomes involved or the protagonist must choose who will die. Moral dilemma is wonderful.

The conference has sessions of the business of writing as well. Did you know that Amazon has a Kindle Scout Program to surface and highlight new books? They will give you an awesome start if you are selected.

Blogs do not sell books. Facebook, Facebook parties and responding every time you are mentioned do help. You can buy ads in Book Bug or do a free promo in Bub. E-reader News Today also has ads.

Another tidbit: bankruptcy clauses in contracts are totally unenforceable. Publishers will insist on them, but it’s silly. Publishers commonly get a first right of refusal on your next book, though it can be restricted to a certain genre. If you decide to publish independently, it’s recommended you start an LCC.

In other news, I won my first writing award in the rather intense writing competition. I’m told that now makes me an Award Winning Writer. How cool is that?