AshEdit—News About Books & Writers

April 10, 2012

Write Stuff Conference 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashedit @ 1:54 pm


The first conference I ever attended was the 2003 Write Stuff Conference of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group ( I have returned to this annual event several times. This is a general writers’ conference. Previous years have included presentations for nonfiction writers and poets, but this year was a fiction year.

Thursday and Friday featured workshops (involving additional fees), but I attended only the main conference on Saturday the 17th.


The conference workhorse this year was James Scott Bell, author of legal thrillers and books on the craft of writing. He has also begun a series
 of zombie legal thrillers. The next book in that series will be I Ate the Sheriff.
Moving on.

JOAN ZACHARY, intrepid shutterbug

Mr. Bell conducted workshops on novel and screen writing and gave several Saturday presentations and the keynote address, Story Tellers Save the World: How Fiction Keeps Us From Going Nuts. His presentation on Power Revision was for me the high point of the conference. Who doesn’t dread and dislike writing a synopsis? Mr. Bell gave us a reason to persevere, because the synopsis can be a powerful revision tool. Write your synopsis, see what changes make it more powerful, and then go back to the novel and rewrite accordingly.

He also spoke on techniques for increasing suspense. One that I plan to experiment with is to deprive the protagonist of a capability or advantage that he/she enjoyed. Inflicting a physical injury, turning an ally into an enemy, or taking the character out of his/her familiar surroundings can do the trick.
I also intend to try making a list of reasons why the character can’t walk away from a situation and a parallel list of reasons why the character must walk away, and then playing the lists off against each other.

Agents panel
The agents’ panel discussion offered state-of-the-art information on what’s hot and what’s not in the publishing world. It’s a popular session at every Write Stuff conference.

It’s as easy as it looks. Honest! Writers pitch their work to agents in leisurely ten-minute appointments. 

Waiting. Attendees try to keep nerves under control while waiting for their appointment with a book agent.

Reconnecting to the Teenager in You: Joyce Reynolds explains to authors how to break into the hot market of fiction for young adults.

The book fair offers books by conference presenters and GLVWG members, many of whom got their big break at previous Write Stuff conferences.


True crime author Katherine Ramsland spoke on Research to Results: Immersion, Aha! Moments, and Best Narratives. She also conducted a discussion on forensics, about which her knowledge is state of the art.

The conference home is the Sheraton Four Points Hotel. I did not stay overnight, but I found the hotel’s meeting facilities entirely satisfactory. The Lehigh Valley International Airport is right across the street.

Agent and editor pitch sessions are available. At ten minutes, they are more leisurely than those at many conferences.

This was the year the Write Stuff Conference went national. Attendees came from as far as Montana and Texas. The success of this conference is justified, and I recommend it.

True crime author Katherine Ramsland spoke on Research to Results: Immersion, Aha! Moments, and Best Narratives. She also conducted a discussion on forensics. Her knowledge is state of the art.

Here comes the payoff! GLVWG member Kathryn Craft listens to James Scott Bell share the secrets of building suspense for readers. Mr. Bell's keynote address was "Storytellers Save the World: How Fiction Keeps us From Going Nuts."

LEFT:Photographer and writer Joan Zachary lives in the wilds of Pennsylvania with an aspiring rock musician and a domesticated house tiger.

RIGHT: Albert Tucher is the author of thirty-five published short stories and five unpublished novels about prostitute Diana Andrews. One story, called Bismarck Rules, appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories 2010, edited by Lee Child. When Diana isn’t looking, he sometimes writes a standalone story. He works as a cataloger at the Newark Public Library and drinks too much coffee.



  1. What a gorgeous tribute to our conference! Thanks, Joan and Al!

    Comment by Kathryn Craft (@kcraftwriter) — April 10, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

  2. Hi Kathryn, you sure know how to throw a bookfest over there in Allentown. Thanks for dropping by!

    Comment by Elaine Ash — April 10, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

  3. I know fiction has stopped me from going nuts many a time. It’s a wonderful form of escapism, a place where anything’s possible. And a zombie legal thriller? Now that’s one book I’d like to read! LA Law crosses Night of the Living Dead!

    Comment by G Matthews — May 28, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  4. The book is under a pseudonym. K. Bennett, if I remember correctly.

    Comment by Al Tucher — May 29, 2012 @ 7:04 am

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