Open-Source How To Write Gooders

man on motorcycle
Turn left at Amazon, stop at Goodreads, go three sites north…

Mostly, I try not to dwell on writing process or business in detail anymore. I did it a lot in the ol’ LiveJournal days, back when I was just starting to find community and do the things that newly serious writers do. LJ waned, platforms changed, and so on. After I passed through some invisible but tangible doorway, long conversations about writing became less interesting. I had chewed over most of the big writing questions, at least the ones appropriate for me for the moment.

Things change. I’m currently enmeshed in the transition from one novel draft to the next. I’m working harder than I ever have to improve my scene transitions. It is literally exhausting, working on it at the intensity I currently am, from the analysis to the rewriting. This is new territory for me, which is nice. It’s encouraging to see that I have room to grow, can tell that, and can see a path forward.

Anyway, these days I mostly spend my social media time on Twitter (@smythsewn), which never lacks for writing-related drama. The perennial to-MFA-or-not-to-MFA debate popped up again last week, courtesy of an article about overpriced programs. Many hot takes resulted, but also some cool ones. I particularly liked Faylita Hix’s open-source MFA/professionalization thread, and Lincoln Michel’s post on everything he’s learned about “professional” writing.

The Author Website: Build It to Build a Following

Hey Richmond! Come to The Writing Show tonight at the Firehouse Theatre!

logo for The Writing ShowA great author website doesn’t have to be complicated. Find out how to build a website that can showcase your work to publishing professionals and help you connect with readers.

Topics our experts will discuss include

  • What are the must-haves for the author website
  • When to bring in a professional
  • Blog subscriptions versus newsletter email lists
  • How to fund your author website, or use it to find funding
  • Adding social media and blogs
  • Press packages, FAQ documents

When: Wednesday, April 29, 6:00 pm

Where: Firehouse Theatre 1609 West Broad Street(Parking available across the street in the Lowe’s lot)

Price: $12 for Members, $15 for non-Members, $5 for Students


Justine_Headshot smJustine Schofield is the development director of Pubslush, a pre-publication platform that offers crowdfunding and pre-order options to authors and publishers. A writer at heart, Justine received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. A prominent voice in the publishing industry and an advocate for educating authors and publishers about crowdfunding, she is a regular contributor to The Future of Ink, Business Banter, and more.

AB Westrick sm

A.B. (Anne) Westrick is the author of Brotherhood (Viking 2013), winner of the 2014 Jefferson Cup Award, the Housatonic Book Award, the Jane Addams Honor Award, and the Notable Trade Book Award. Brotherhood also made the ALA’s 2014 list of Best Fiction for Young Adults. From 2006-2012 Anne was JRW’s Administrative Director. She lives near Richmond, VA, and blogs once a month about the craft of writing.

bod_joshua_caneJoshua Paul Cane is a web programmer living in Richmond, VA. For nearly 17 years, he has built, redesigned, and consulted on web applications for Federal and state agencies, non-profits, businesses, and authors. Not only does he write code, but he writes fiction: humorous short stories and now an urban fantasy novel. He serves as a board member and membership committee chair of James River Writers.

Pick a Card, Any Card

In news so banal that I hesitate even to post it online, I at last have “writer” business cards in stock again. There’s a business card I use in connection with my day job, of course, and the two worlds overlap quite a bit, but some of my connections are solely about writing .

My first cards I printed in advance of attending RavenCon back in 2008 (where I’ll be guesting in 2015), and were the ones at the top with the white rabbit. In the middle is the plain vanilla, which I liked fine, but ran out. Facing a business card gap, I snagged a decorative border from the British Library’s awesome flickr set of materials that are in the public domain.

business cards

Cards over the years


Every writer who is professionalizing or thinking about professionalizing asks “should I have business cards?” A better question is probably “what should I be doing with my time as a writer other than worrying about business cards?”

Cards are so simple a thing, you shouldn’t consider it beyond finding an image you like, using a clear font, and moderately sturdy paper. (For those of you with Opinions about Crane vs. William Arthur, this obviously doesn’t apply to you.) Then print your business cards, at home or with a stationer.

Finding people online can be a pain. Unless you don’t want to be found among the sea of Sandra Smiths, help people find you. Search algorithms change all the time, and they don’t always play well with social media, especially if you use Hello Kitty or whatever as a profile image. If you want people to find you, make sure they can. Business cards are a nice aid to this when you meet in person.

Traditional or Self-Published? Split the Difference and Try “Hybrid”

James River Writers logo


Have you considered self-publishing? Have you considered traditional publishing? Are you trying to decide when and where to draw the line between one and the other? If you’re near Richmond, Virginia tonight, Thursday, March 24, 2014, come to this month’s edition of The Writing Show. Husband-and-wife duo Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris, popular speakers at the 2013 James River Writers conference, are returning to Richmond for the Writing Show to examine the emerging “hybrid author,” adept at combining the flexibility of indie with the exposure of traditional publishing. Bill Blume, author of Tales of a 10th Grade Vampire Hunter, will moderate the discussion about how writers can find this middle ground and leverage the benefits of both. The second half of the panel welcomes questions from the audience.

The Hybrid Author: Combining Traditional and Self-publishing
Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m., with complementary hors d’oeuvres
The Camel
1621 W. Broad St., Richmond
Ample parking available in the Lowe’s parking lot across the street (Lowe’s and the Camel have a parking sharing agreement).
$10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 students