… Where I will be the Keynote Speaker on July 31st.


150,000 or more in this country are struggling to write first novels, thousands of manuscripts flooding agent offices, but only a few hundred at most will ever be published by a major house.

This unique writer conference was developed by the editors and authors at Algonkian Conferences to provide you, the aspiring author, with not only network connections, but comprehensive, hands-on experience utilizing the craft skills, insider advice, and hard-to-swallow facts you must possess before you can even hope to get a first novel successfully published in this tougher-than-ever market.

The WTM is a writer conference event designed to be unique, pragmatic, and productive professional evaluations of your novel or work-in-progress.

At the event you will engage in network pitch sessions and interact with top list-building agents who will be present on the final day to provide connection and advice in proportion to your needs.

Sleep For Success

From How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream

Excerpt from Chapter 7 “Your Mind/Body Asset Base”

I rarely lose a night's sleep, despite the stressful lifestyle I've chosen, because I promised myself at the start of my career transit that losing sleep over this new career was a symptom of not being able to handle it. Take your sleep very seriously. The minimum you require for functioning with a clear and rested brain is a non-negotiable need. But make sure you've done everything you can to make your sleep restful. To begin with, unless you're allergic to cotton, buy an all-cotton mattress with an all-cotton cover that breathes through the night instead of emitting noxious fumes. Engage only in soothing activities before falling asleep (sex is best during the day). And if you have a telephone in the bedroom or anywhere near (I no longer do), disconnect it! If you know you might be disturbed you’re already disturbed.
I don't watch television before falling asleep because it fills my head with incoming stimuli at a time when I need to shut down the onboard computer so it can reshuffle and sort its programs. Instead, I find reading a half-page of almost anything will instantly knock me out, no matter how charged-up I felt before I began reading.

Click here to buy How to Escape Lifetime Security and Pursue Your Impossible Dream on Amazon.

Top 5 Sleep Tips
by Nadine Saubers author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fighting Fatigue

1. Stimulants
--Use your bed only for sleep and sex—don’t read or watch TV in bed- and avoid other stimulants including vigorous exercise, caffeine in beverages and such things as caffeine containing medications like Excedrin, smoking, alcohol, and emotionally charged conversations in the evening. Because individuals have their own thresholds for each of these I always say to find your own cut off time. But the general rule of thumb is to limit your caffeine laced drinks to three cups and drink them before 10 am. Just being aware that all of these are factors is the first step in knowing that you have to find your own limitations/thresholds.

2. Sleep environment-- Keep your sleep environment dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. That includes black out shades, drapes, or even an eye mask. Any light at all during the night will disrupt your circadian clock and your ability to sleep, so keep lighted clocks out of your bedroom (use a clock that requires you to push a button on top to illuminate). Some people like to use a fan for white noise to drown out any other noises. Comfort can come from changing your sheets more often and investing in comfortable bed linens and pillows. Temperature is so important-- you need an environment that is around 64-68 degrees. Today there are great pillows like the down alternative gel pillows that are made from polyester that you can you buy 2 King size gel pillows for around 25$. And the deal with changing your sheets often is to reduce itching and feeling hot from things like dust mites. Fewer dust mites can also mean a difference in allergy symptoms. And you should change your pillow when you change your toothbrush, because 10% of the weight of a 2 year old pillow is dust mite droppings.

3. Food
--Eat your last meal at least three hours before you sleep and avoid sugars for bedtime snacks. A meal raises your blood sugar too high, inhibits sleep, and later when your blood sugar drops too low you might wake up and not be able to fall back asleep. Instead, have a snack that contains the amino acid tryptophan (a natural relaxant), such as a small cup of milk or some turkey, along with a small piece of fruit or other complex carb to help the tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier. Avoid eating foods that you might be sensitive to because the resulting indigestion or heartburn will keep you awake. Try a small snack of some whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta, yams, a mixed green salad, sautéed vegetables with a small portion of a healthy fat-containing food, such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts or seeds or -herb tea (especially chamomile or peppermint).

4. Schedule
--Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning in order to help regulate your body's inner clock. Stick to a similar schedule on weekends and days off. Go to bed within an hour of your usual bedtime every night and if you have problems sleeping, avoid naps because they often interfere with nighttime sleep.

5. Light, exercise, and ritual
--Expose yourself to bright light daily and get at least 15 minutes of sunlight on your skin every day and get plenty of exercise. Work out regularly because exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and sleep more soundly. But sporadic exercise will contribute to muscle pain and discomfort that may keep you awake. And people who suffer from fatigue need to exercise in order to make their bodies physically tired enough to want to sleep. Exercise is different for everyone, a brisk walk can be enough to tire some people, other people need to start out more gradually, and others need very vigorous exercise. Bedtime rituals can include making sure you are not exposed to bright light within a couple of hours before bed, taking a hot bath 90 minutes before bed so that your body temperature can fall, deep breathing exercises, and reading something relaxing, writing out your tomorrow’s to do list so that your mind doesn’t have to worry you will forget something, praying, chanting, or meditation whatever you like to do for spiritual practices.


What is the difference between “Something that happens” and a “scene.”

Many submissions from both novelists and screenwriters are filled with “non-conflicted” writing, passages in which “something happens” that is filled with emotion, description, and symbolism in which no conflict happens to change the character(s) and forward the story, from a dramatic point of view.

In professional storytelling, drama is all that matters—not just in general, but in each and every scene.

The “scene” is the unit of drama. What makes a scene different from an event, or “something that happens,” is that in a scene a conflict is introduced and/or resolved. It’s that simple. A scene has a well-defined beginning, middle, and end; the beginning’s purpose is to “set up” the conflict, the middle works through the conflict’s components or obstacles, and the end “resolves” the conflict and/or, in some cases, introduces the next conflict.

Tips for Writers

The single most important element in storytelling is conflict that moves the story forward. It’s not enough to include it in every act. You need to make sure it’s there in every scene, on every page, in every exchange of dialogue, every sentence of your narrative. Then you’ve got a story that no one can stop listening to!
An editor becomes kind of your mother. You expect love and encouragement from an editor.--Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Tips for Screenwriters

The opening shots of a good movie, just like the first few pages of a good novel, show the audience or reader WHAT KIND of story this is—like the opening shot of “Social Network” or the first scene of “The Exorcist” or the opening murder of a commercial thriller. The audience needs the reassurance that they’re watching a romantic comedy, or thriller, or true life story—it makes them trust the storyteller, and “suspend” their “disbelief.”

Dr. Ken Atchity Discusses the New Frontier of Publishing and What It Means for Writers

As a literary manager, Dr. Ken Atchity has launched many illustrious careers for novelists, writers of nonfiction and screenwriters.

He’s also produced 28 films and authored 14 books, including “A Writer’s Time: Making Time to Write” and “Writing Treatments That Sell.”

With credits like these and over 40 years experience in publishing, it’s safe to say that Ken knows the business.

This is precisely why I wanted to speak with him about the radical changes in the publishing environment and what it means to today’s writers.

Here’s the interview:

There’s been drastic change in the publishing world over the last several years. What does this mean for today’s aspiring novelists?

It means that today’s novelists are living on a new frontier, and are free to seize opportunity where they find it—and take their fate into their own hands. They are no longer enslaved by a publishing paradigm that never made good business sense. In short, go Internet, young novelist!

What are your thoughts on novelists self-publishing their work in e-book form?

That is not only the way of the future, it’s the way of the present! It’s the paradigm that’s already working for hundreds of writers. Soon it will work for thousands. Be the next one on your block to publish an ebook.

Is there still a stigma tied to self-publishing? And, if so, should writers care?

Not in the least, as long as it’s done professionally with the highest artistic standards and commercial intelligence.

What kind of sales would an author have to demonstrate in order to gain interest from a traditional publishing house?

Once you’re north of 10,000 sales or so, you have a chance of the traditional publishers taking you seriously because you’ve proven there IS a market for your book.

If an independent author is making healthy sales on his own, what reasons would he have to sign with a traditional publisher?

That’s really the question. If money is your goal, you’re making more by far on the esales than you would make from a traditional publisher at that point.

If fame, then maybe you consider switching to the traditional publisher so you can say you were “published by W. W. Norton.” But you will lose control over your book if you do that.

Basically, the only reason that makes sense for going traditional at that point is the kind of irresistible advance Amanda Hocking got from St. Martin’s–$2 million!

At what point (if any), would you recommend that a new novelist who has published their book in electronic format consider publishing in paper- or hardback?

This is primarily a question of whether the new novelist has access to physical audiences that will buy her book. If he does, then go to Print on Demand (P.O.D.) and order enough books for each event you attend. Plus, you need “hard copies” to sign!

If self publishing, what are some of the tasks a writer should perform before launching their books?

(1) Make sure your book is professionally edited. Most self-published books are not, and readers get angry and stop buying them.

(2) Hire a professional designer for the cover—one who’s worked for the traditional publishing houses.

(3) Make sure you have a marketing plan, no matter how minimal—and implement it every single day. Hire a web publicist who knows what he’s doing—or a strategic career coach like myself (

Where do you think most writers go wrong when self-publishing their books?

They do it through organizations that add unnecessary expense to the writer’s investment instead of doing it “direct” with Kindle, I-books, Lightning Source, etc.

Now that anyone and everyone can publish themselves (& often do), what can an author with a quality product do to stand out?

Publicity and marketing. The more inventive you are, the better. That’s why it’s a new frontier—the prize goes to the most creative.

Thanks for your time, Ken! Informative interview. :)

Thanks, Jen. Keep up the good work!

To find out more about Dr. Ken Atchity, you can find him at and

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Interview by Jennifer Minar-Jaynes. Jennifer Minar-Jaynes is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of

Criticism Is the Only Way to Grow

Recently I responded with thanks to a former Georgetown professor of mine who had taken the time to critique (severely, as was his wont) something I’m working on. He wrote back, “I admire your courageousness in the face of criticism.”

It’s not courage, Dr. Joe, it’s sincere gratitude. In this frenzied world of minute attention spans, when someone takes the time to read your work carefully and the further time to criticize it, gratitude is the only response I consider to be professional. I wrote just that, nearly twenty years ago, in A Writer’s Time: “Finding a writer you can take objective criticism from is a rare discovery in a writer’s career…If criticism angers you, allow yourself to be angry, but put your anger on hold until you have a chance to consider the criticism at a cooler moment.”[click here to order A Writer’s Time]

I was reminded of the evening I spent chatting on a South Florida beach with my old friend Mort Ransen, director of Falling Over Backwards. We had just come from the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, where the film had played to sincere applause from the opening night audience. Afterwards, at the lobby reception, people stood in line to congratulate us and shake Mort’s hand. All were positive, except one man who went on and on about something or other that bothered him about the film. I was about to come to Mort’s rescue and usher the critic away, when Mort stopped me and proceeded to give the man his full attention.

“I’ve never seen anyone in my life,” I said, later on the beach admiring the Gulf Stream’s gentle lapping at the frantic South Beach scene, “who takes criticism as well as you do.”

“It’s the only way to learn,” he replied. “I learn nothing from praise.”

Tip for Screenwriters

Don’t refer to other films in your screenplay. You never know what the reader may think of them, and the reader may think way too many thoughts about them—distracting from the story in front of him.

Act 2

Act 2 is the Sahara Desert of writing a novel or screenplay, and it’s much more than merely the bridge between Acts 1 and 3. One way to deal with it effectively is to divine Act 2 itself into three acts—and, while you’re at it, divide each of those into three mini-acts. The division by three is powerful even down to the page, paragraph, and sentence level. It keeps the reader involved all the time!


Not just MAJOR CHARACTERS, but also SUPPORTING CHARACTERS need to make progress or change in a good story. It takes only three or four beats to establish transformation:

(1) establish the character as selfish;

(2) illustrate further selfishness, this time with someone reacting to it;

(3) do it again, with her registering the reaction; and

(4) show her doing something, even something small, that is unselfish.

With strokes like that, you’ll be considered a master of character-building. It’s that simple.

Showing Up

Achievement and success aren’t all about feeling GREAT all the time. I can tell you that I’ve often wondered about the speakers I hear who pretend like they’re ALWAYS at the top of their game, when, in fact, I believe we all have to get ourselves to the grindstone nearly every single morning–not leaping out of bed, but going through the motions until the sparks start flying. And they do, as you say, start flying once the positive energy of work takes over. It’s just if you’re not there, it won’t happen. The biggest effort of all is putting all the cobwebs in your brain aside and just SHOWING UP at your writing desk. As a great baseball player once said, “Practice all the time. If you’re not practicing, someone else is out there practicing–and when he meets you, he will beat you.”