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September 2016 Edition

Hey all,

Welcome to September! It’s been a while since we’ve chatted so I’ve got an update on what’s been going on (writing-wise) in my corner of the Midwest. Be sure to chime in on the comments below, I enjoy hearing from you. Happy (almost) fall!


Over the past quarter, I’ve taken a sabbatical from reviewing books for the Historical Novel Society, but I did get the opportunity to meet a member author at a literary event this summer, Nicole Evelina, who writes medieval tales and has just published a book on the life of an early female contender for the U.S. Presidency, Madame Presidentess, which actually sold out at the event, which is a fantastic problem for an author to have!

leaf-1081896_1920I anticipate that new reviewing opportunities for HNR will be available in October, and hope to get at least a few titles to read and review for a future issue. I’ll keep you updated.

In my June Edition, I mentioned my plans of revising Aurorae Rising, and not much has happened with that either. I spent a good month or so, analyzing scenes, playing around with the order of the narration, and generally, trying to get a feel for where the scenes weren’t really performing as well as they could be, and where the scenes needed more development in the re-write, or where they needed to be cut entirely.

The conclusion that I’ve come up with is that the protagonist, Spider Holbrook, is not terribly likeable to readers, and that’s problematic. That he seems to have no real drive of his own within the plot, that’s devastating. Until Spider decides to start talking to me, I’m setting this project on the backburner.

Currently Editing

Over the past few months I’ve been editing (and occasionally writing articles for) The Scribe, a monthly publication released by the St. Louis Writers Guild. The issues always fall a month behind (they cover the previous month’s events) and in average, I’ve been receiving only a few contributions per issue so the time commitment is minimal.

When I first took over as Managing Editor, I took a few afternoons of my time and focused on revising the publicly available Smashwords template to suit the needs of the publication. Now, it’s simply a matter of editing the pieces, putting them in each issue, creating anchor links for the TOC, updating bios, adding photos/ads, then emailing it off to be reviewed by the contributing author(s)/editor for revisions prior to publication. Easy, right?

Right now, the August 2016 issue is currently underway, but please feel free to check out the most recent issues for details on what’s been going on here in the Midwest:


Other News

The St. Louis Writers Guild has announced that next summer, we’ll be hosting our first-ever Gateway Con, a major conference for readers and writers, which will be taking place at the Renaissance Hotel next year, June 16th-18th. It’s fitting that the first writer’s conference that I attend would be our own, so I’ve begun saving (slowly, so very slowly) for the attendance fees (readers get in free) and possibly a hotel stay to make it a full-on writing retreat.

Of course, if I’m going to do a writing retreat, then I really ought to invest in a laptop as well for those late-night bouts of writing inspiration.  “If you give a moose a muffin…”

The question that I’m pondering now is what do I hope to take away from the con beyond networking, a getaway, some great workshops, panels, and master classes? Well, I’m anticipating that there will be agents there and I’m still on the fence about traditional publishing.

apple-1034305_1920I think the future lies in indie self-publishing, or a hybrid deal. Writers working with agents might establish hardback and paperback copy distribution if that’s something the author doesn’t feel comfortable dealing with, or foreign rights or audio book/media rights, etc. What does that leave the author?

Well, e-book rights, naturally, and I think these need to be maintained by the author at all costs. Digital products available 24/7 equals a constant source of revenue for the author, and means that established writers retain control of their backlist.

But getting back to the con, there’s something to be said for getting validation/recognition from a traditional press and when you’re paying for a conference that includes a pitch session, it’d behoove you to take advantage of it, for no other reason that that you’re already paying for their expertise. So use it already!

That does leave the rather tricky question of, what do I need to be working on NOW, to have ready to present by next June, and can I maintain some semblance of discipline and focus to get it done by then? I’ve no idea.

What’s Next

I’ve fallen head over heels in love with GoOnWrite, a UK designer (James) who does pre-made book cover art for authors starting out in indie publishing, and at $50 USD a pop, you can’t beat those prices. Well, maybe if you’re already inclined/gifted at design and want to give it a go yourself (which I’m not and I don’t). He also offers services ala carte, like POD cover designs, publisher logos, swag designs, social media banners, etc.

Some of the designs are better than others, but I’ve got a fairly good eye for design and most of the ones that I mentally purchase for myself, are usually the first of the latest batch of releases to sell. So when I spotted a cover over the weekend that I felt would be perfect someday for an idea I’ve been kicking around, I sort of dug into my conference funds (oops?) and snatched it up immediately. James is pretty low-key about authors and aspiring authors buying stuff to reserve it, and then come up with the cover content later, so that’s awesome.

But what’s this? No sooner than I’ve begun to brainstorm how to approach that story idea than the Muse shows up, teasing me with a mystery series…go away, Muse, I’m trying to finish something here. Excuse me, but I’ll be in my fantasy cabin by the lake where it is eternally autumn.


This entry was posted in: Lifestyle


Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has two decades of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at


  1. Peggy Gates Watson says

    Medieval tales!
    Thanks for the links to the Scribe… I’m trying to catch up on all my reading. I’ve actually finished a few books this week. I feel soooo accomplished… if it weren’t for all the piles of stuff I still need to complete.
    This Con sounds interesting too… hopefully we’ll chat more about it, hopefully over another pizza.
    Love u!

    Liked by 1 person

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