If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Workshops and Conferences

My mind is turning to writing workshops and conferences right now because I just finished teaching in an intensive three-day writer’s conference and am preparing to teach a mystery writing workshop tomorrow night and another the next week. So I’m in teacher mode about writing at this moment.

When I’m not teaching, I’m usually in student mode. I learn from every book I read, including the bad ones. (Nothing is more effective than seeing first-hand where some bad practices and techniques can take you.) I learn from my writer friends in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I learn from my publisher/editor husband and friends who are also editors. If I’m smart, I even learn from my dog. (When he’s awake, he’s cheerful and excited about life. When he can’t be cheerful and excited, he goes to sleep. Good lesson for me there.)

When I’m teaching, I find it interesting to see how important the student’s attitude is to the amount they learn. At the writer’s conference I mentioned, we had thirty-nine students who were eager to learn and willing to work hard to make the most of the opportunity of having ten successful professional writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic writing offer them what these writers had spent years learning. (One of the exciting things about the design of this conference is the low student-to-teacher ratio.) One student came late, missed sessions, didn’t bother to do half the writing exercises, and spent most of his time (and too much of everyone else’s) arguing with whoever was teaching at the moment. What a waste of a great opportunity!

Anyone who teaches knows that we don’t really teach anyone anything. We make available information, techniques, strategies, and craft that we have discovered through our own education and experience of working in the field. The student learns through the use s/he makes of what we offer. The old idea of teaching as a kind of opening the head of the student and pouring knowledge in is useless and silly. The student who learns is the student who wants to learn and who is willing to do the work of learning.

After many years of working and teaching in a university, I coined the term “young Turks” to describe the (usually but not always) male grad student who attacks all the other students any time they dare to open their mouths and wants to impress the professor with how much he knows already. Such a student doesn’t learn much, I’m afraid. 

I look instead at the other thirty-nine students of our conference who came on time or often early, listened carefully, asked questions to learn more, did the work, and took advantage of the great opportunities to pick the faculty’s brains at breakfast, lunch, and breaks. One woman told me how she works three part-time jobs to support herself and her two small children and how she can only write after working all day, feeding her kids, bathing them, and reading them to sleep. But she writes at least two hours every night nonetheless. And she made the sacrifice of money and time to attend this conference and learn more. She came early and stayed late, even though she had to go home and take care of her kids still—and she brought in two manuscripts for critique rather than the one that was required.

Guess which of the two students I’ve described is going to make it as a writer. My money’s on the hard-working, eager-to-learn-more woman struggling to make ends meet rather than the guy who couldn’t be bothered to show up half the time and was sure he knew more than anyone else there.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been studying and working at writing for over 50 years. I still have so much to learn, and I try to learn something every day, if I can. No matter how much success I may eventually have as a writer, I suspect I will keep finding new things to learn about the art and craft until the day I die. What do you feel about teaching and learning? Where do you look to learn what you need to know about the art and craft of writing?


Paula Gail Benson said...

Wish we were close enough that I could take your classes, Linda. Thanks for all your preparation that goes into the process. Hope you and your students have the chance to learn from each other.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I’ve always found that teaching is a great way to learn. The process of putting together lesson plans, thinking through the issues and answering (or not being able to answer) questions provides me with a greater depth of understanding than I had before.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I think it's the same in every field. When I drove some kids on my son's football team to practice, one kids started to brag about his ability on the field. Of course, he was the first to drop off the football team roster.

Perhaps by bragging, assuming success and not following instruction these people are bolstering their own lack of confidence or they are deluding themselves. Often I wonder if a self-centered person is either an egotist or lacks self-confidence. The behavior can be the same for each extreme.

I'm sure you're a great teacher, Linda. Do you teach online courses?

Warren Bull said...

I agree that a teacher makes information available and it is up to the student to put the information to use or not. A student who doesn't show up is better than one who wastes the entire class's time by hogging the spotlight.

I had the opportunity to take a class from Linda. It was great.

Sarah Henning said...

I learned (and confirmed) so much during your workshop last week, Linda. I think anyone could benefit from hearing you lay out all the truths you told Friday night!

Linda Rodriguez said...
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Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Paula. I'm fortunate enough to have really great students.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Absolutely, Jim! In the process of teaching, I'm always reminded of things I've known and stopped apying attention to. Also, teaching writing makes me examine my writing process and improve it constantly.

Linda Rodriguez said...

EB, you're right. Natural ability or talent is great, but it's what you do with it that really makes the difference. I know teachers who will-- *shudder* --tell student you can't be a poet or writer because you have no talent. I could never do that.

Back when I was a student myself, I knew a young man who wanted to be a writer in the worst way. He was pathetic on the page. In my youthful arrogance, I might have told him then that he'd never make it, but fortunately, I had some humility and figured it wasn't my place. He worked so hard and took every edit (we were both on the student newspaper also) as a learning experience that eventually he became a reporter for one of the great newspapers of the country and won a Pulitzer in journalism. That taught me early that talent is just the least of it.

Linda Rodriguez said...

And about online course, EB--I'm asked to do that a lot. I don't right now, but my son is going to try to set up the tech so I can start doing it in the future.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, you're so kind. But then you're a great student, the kind who's willing to put in the work to listen and discuss and then use what he learned in his own work.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Warren, you're so kind. But then you're a great student, the kind who's willing to put in the work to listen and discuss and then use what he learned in his own work.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sarah, you also are a sweetheart--and were an excellent student. That whole group was really good.

I'm lucky, in that I usually have students now who want to be there and want to learn. It's only when I teach at universities again where some student have to take that class for a requirement or to fill hours that I run into the puffed-up or apathetic ones so much. Teaching adults who want to learn is an absolute joy!

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I remember a grad class with a "Young Turk" in it. Add to that, the class was taught by a professor, who was obviously a misogynist at least towards older more mature women. He listened and discussed points in the book we were reading with the "Young Turk" and other guys in the class, and with smiles of the cute young things, but shrugged off anything the several other mature women and I had to say.

I learned so much from teaching even though it was elementary school, and I never stop learning because I never stop reading. I heard of a very popular mystery writer who said the never reads because it might taint her writing, or something to that effect. That might be why I got tired of her series - which I had enjoyed at first - because she pretty much reworked the same plot over and over.

I wish I lived close enough to take your classes.

Linda Rodriguez said...

You know, Gloria, I'm fortunate to be friends with some very successful writers--NYT bestsellers, big literary award winners, etc.--all much more successful than me. They all consider themselves learners still. They learn from other teachers at conferences where they teach. Sometimes from teachers without the great accomplishments they have but with a new tip they can use. They all read hugely and often outside of their genre or field. They know that, even if they are so very successful, they still don't know anywhere near everything there is to learn about writing. Others could learn from their humility and willingness to learn.

Kara Cerise said...

I’m happy to hear that you will be giving online classes in the future, Linda.

Thanks for reminding us that it’s what we do with our abilities that makes the difference. I love the story about your hardworking classmate who went on to win the Pulitzer. It gives me hope!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Seriously, Kara, I've never seen such a bad, inept writer. I felt sorry for him. then, I watched as he turned himself into a good reporter and writer through his own hard work and perseverance. When I began to teach, I never forgot his example. Anyone who's willing to work hard, hard, hard, and learn everything they can--anyone--can learn to write.

And if you are one of the very talented ones, realize that you'll be competing with people who want it that badly and are willing to work that hard to get there. You won't feel so secure in just your talent then.

Anonymous said...

Well said! Reminds me of the story of the Zen master who poured tea into a full cup to demonstrate that a student must be empty and ready for knowledge . . .

Linda Rodriguez said...

Perfect example, Mary! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I believe it was Thomas Edison who said, "Genius is one percent inspiratin and nintey-nine percent perspiration." And since we've all got that one percent inspiration. or we wuldn't have anything to write about...

I agree that we encounter people who we find to be obnoxious. Our culture can encourage that. Remember the "self-esteem" movement? Somehow people lost sight of the fact that respect has to be earned. The whole idea that I am wonderful just the way I am, because I am me, leads to a lot of people who are sure they are perfect the way they are & don't need to learn anything. Add to that the fact that there are numerous examples in pop culture of people who are "successful" just because they exude self-assurance, whether it's warranted or not, and you have a good basis for people who think they are hot stuff and don't mind telling everybody else that.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Yes, KM. I think Mary caught it best with the old Zen proverb of the full cup representing the student who had no room to learn anything--literally too "full of himself."

But I hasten to add that those students are uncommon for me anymore. I tend to get marvelous adult students who are eager and ready to learn and willing to work hard to improve. There's just nothing greater than working with a student like that!