Copyright July 2017 St. Louis Writers Guild – All rights reserved
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Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, St. Louis 1904
Cover Design by Brad R. Cook
T. W. Fendley
Brad R. Cook
Ryan P. Freeman
The Scribe is published monthly digitally by the Saint Louis Writers Guild with an annual print issue. The editorial staff invites Guild members to submit original submissions of poetry, short stories, or articles about writing (4,000 words or less) for publication in this magazine. The Scribe is promoted to more than 1,000 people on our mailing list. Submissions should be sent by the first of each month to -- put SCRIBE in the subject line.
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[In this issue
By Brad R. Cook
By Lauren Miller
The Great Success of Gateway Con 2017!
By Brad R. Cook
Ideas come to writers at all hours. Some turn into great novels, others wither or are forgotten. Sometimes an idea becomes something amazing – like the Gateway to Publishing Conference and Convention. Wow, that is a mouthful, so it’s good thing we dubbed it Gateway Con.
One day I was in the car with David Lucas, St. Louis Writers Guild president, and we started talking about conferences and book fairs. That’s how this new event in the St. Louis literary world began. Gateway Con combines a book fair, a writer’s conference, and a writer’s retreat in a single weekend. It creates a way to tap into the publishing industry, connect with other writers, and sell some books.
After a year and a half of monthly meetings, weekly marketing meetings, and lots of publicity, on Thursday, June 15, a group from the St. Louis Writers Guild met at the hotel and began setting up for the event. The Renaissance Hotel is stunning, with great rooms, lots of light, so much parking, and a cool modern vibe. We started with the Author Hall, where authors and vendors would line the walls and form an aisle down the middle of the room. We had a detangling party for the lanyards and the cutting of the cards. Then we set up projectors and dealt with a million other last-minute details for the Writer’s Conference. We ended the day with a great dinner at the hotel and a dip in the pool to wind down.
Then the first day of Gateway Con arrived! As anyone who has ever been in theater knows, magic builds up to the show and then somehow everything comes together. Stepping off the elevator that morning, there was definitely something magical in the air.
The Writer’s Conference started with my workshop on pitching. I wanted to get everyone ready to pitch to the literary agents and publishers who were at Gateway Con. It worked, too. We had a number of successful pitches. Agents Kathleen Ortiz and Justin Wells said they could tell who had paid attention in my workshop. Kudos to everyone who pitched at Gateway Con! Way to go!
Emily Hall, the co-owner and proprietress of Main Street Books, spoke next. She gave a wonderful talk about how indie bookstores work with authors. We truly thank Main Street Books for being involved with Gateway Con during its inaugural year. Definitely stop by Main Street Books in historic St. Charles and let Emily know how much you appreciate their support of local writers.
Award-winning author Cynthia Graham and publisher Jennifer Geist of Brick Mantel Books and Open Books Press then spoke about the author/publisher relationship. It was great to learn first-hand how they work together and what each brings to the books.
Attendees met the conference faculty and then got ready for the First Pages Read. I read the first pages of stories submitted by attendees—apologies if I butchered any character names as I tried to add a bit of dramatic flair. Then we passed the microphone down the line of agents and publishers, who gave insightful tips and pointers about the work. Occasionally, one might have heard, “I don’t represent that, but here’s what I thought.” I have to thank the random page generator, T.W. Fendley, who made certain the selection process was fair. To keep the process more anonymous, next year we’ll have writers list the genre of their submissions.
Friday wasn’t over yet. Next came a viewing of the documentary film by Tony West, The Safe Side of the Fence. A large crowd devoured popcorn and learned not only about how the film was made, but about the fascinating story of the local connection to the Manhattan Project. Following the movie, we headed to the top floor for Genre Talk, a networking cocktail party. The view of the airport at night was stunning. A dozen groups discussed everything from marketing and editing, to how delicious the little spanakopita was. We even found a kindred spirit on the hotel staff, Charlie, who shared some of his writing with an eager crowd. We stayed late into the night, long after the bar closed.
Eventually I headed back to my room, though I didn’t go to bed. Some writers met up in the lobby for the formal write-in, but I sat in my room typing away. Too energized from the day to sleep, I wrote until I knew I wouldn’t survive the next day if I didn’t sleep.
Saturday morning, I had breakfast with several other attendees. It was a great way to kick off the day. The opening session at the Writer’s Conference was a panel with Eileen Dryer, Angie Fox, Cynthia Graham, and Ann Leckie talking about what they loved about being authors. They discussed how and why they write what they do. Then the day split into three tracks every hour until dinner. Claire Applewhite spoke about contracts, Angie Fox taught us all how to make money as a hybrid author, Eileen Dryer talked about first chapters, Ann Leckie shared tips for writing sci-fi, we learned about getting published from Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary, Cynthia Graham made words come to life, and Jennifer Geist of Brick Mantel Books and Open Books Press shared her essential editing tips.
In addition to those amazing speakers, Gateway Con featured workshops by several area literary organizations. Thanks to all those that participated! Each provided valuable content and participated in the Author Hall. Definitely check them out.
Editors of the St. Louis Writers Guild’s literary magazine talked about how they publish The Scribe on a monthly basis. Sisters in Crime made us all love mysteries, and the presidents of Missouri Writers Guild and SLWG talked about producing audiobooks. The Missouri Romance Writers (MORWA) added a touch of romance to the day, while the St. Louis Publishers Association (SLPA) gave us an entry-level course on self-publishing. The St. Louis Press Club discussed making documentaries, and Saturday Writers ended the day with a great talk about formatting your novel.
Additionally, panelists led discussions on Plotting vs Pantsing, Social Media for Authors, How Female Characters are Changing, Great Villains, and Historical Fiction.
Pitches to literary agents and publishers ran throughout the day, with those gathered outside the room feeling a mix of horror and anticipation. Literary agents Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary, Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary, Stephanie Hansen of Metamorphosis Literary, and Justin Wells of Corvisiero Literary Agency, were in attendance, along with Jennifer Geist of Brick Mantel Books and Open Books Press, and Claire Applewhite of Smoking Gun Publishing. The literary agents and publishers told us how impressed they were with everyone who pitched. People were prepared and ready. Apparently, some shared incredibly imaginative ideas.
I witnessed the heights of elation from those who were asked to submit, and the depths of despair from those who left the room without success. Good luck to all who are submitting! I hope great things are ahead.
Gateway Con also featured remote pitches with literary agents around the country. While Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary sat in her New York office, ten conference attendees pitched to her from here in St. Louis. Agents Bob Shuman and Dorothy Spencer also joined us via the web. Expect more of this in the future. A mix of attending and remote agents allows Gateway Con to bring the widest variety of genres and the greatest number of agents.
Saturday wrapped up with the Gala Dinner atop the Renaissance Hotel. President David Lucas gave an emotional speech about why we were all there, as writers coming together. He brought a tear to the eyes of many that night, including himself. Then keynote speaker Angie Fox spoke about her experiences. The New York Times bestselling author encouraged us all to keep writing, to keep moving forward with our work, because you never know what will happen next. The pan-seared chicken was delicious, and the drinks flowed, creating a night of laughter, of writers engaged in the world of words, and of good friends, both old and new.
David even gave a quick shout out to the Lovans, who celebrated their wedding anniversary at Gateway Con. Attendees came from all over the country, from as far as New York, but also from Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, and more.
Gateway Con isn’t just a writers’ conference, it is also a book fair and a write’s’ retreat. The book fair included book signings, author readings, and panels for readers, all free and open to the public. Panels included How Harry Potter Influenced You; The World of Jules Verne; Why We Love Romance; From Tolkien to Star Wars; the Best Women in Fiction; Basic Storytelling, Internet Promotion and Publishing Options; The Best Place To Bury A Body; Collaborative Writing; and Books For Dads…and Moms. The Author Hall held about thirty tables of authors and organizations. Each booth held signs, swag, and books… so many books. Plus raffles… so many raffles. It was a great atmosphere, with people milling about, talking about books. Attendance topped a couple of hundred over the three days, so tell a friend and bring them next year. By the way, expect the event to be even bigger than this year.
The Writers Retreat at Gateway Con was a late addition that turned out to be a huge hit. Several people stayed at the hotel and used the weekend as a way to focus on writing. Those who participated in the write-in, attended lunch with the speakers, and had the good seats at dinner. Several took Master Classes while at Gateway Con and got a lot of words out over the weekend.
Sunday morning, I arrived at the book fair looking forward to a Dad’s-themed day. For Father’s Day, Gateway Con had a morning booking signing with Peter Green, who talked about the books he wrote about his father and mother. Leigh Savage imparted her wisdom about being an indie author, while Jennifer Stolzer spoke about her process as an illustrator. Then Write Pack Radio gathered in the Author Hall to broadcast a live podcast with a studio audience. The topic was Writing Through the Muddy Middle—a rousing discussion, with lots of great questions from the audience. Sunday ended with David and I clashing swords on the main stage. We talked about writing the sword fight, but really, I think everyone was there to watch the two us kill each other.
As we peacefully ended our duel, the curtain fell on the first annual Gateway Con. Wow, it took a year and a half to plan, and now it was over… it was a good feeling, one of accomplishment. Gateway Con was a huge success. We learned a lot, and we’ll apply all of it to next year. The St. Louis Writers Guild has always and will always strive to bring the best events possible.
As a volunteer organization, there are a million people to thank for making this and other Guild events happen—too many to name or Oscar-style music will play as you read this. The short list includes the affiliated organizations, authors who had tables in the book fair, everyone who took a chance and attended this conference’s first year, the hotel staff, the volunteers, the amazing conference staff who made it all look seamless, everyone who worked their butts off planning this, and St. Louis Writers Guild board. Gateway Con might be one man’s vision, but it took an entire Guild to make it happen.
Gateway Con 2018 will announce speakers soon. See you next year!
Workshops for Writers: “Making Biographies Readable, Saleable, and Absorbing” with Peter H. Green
By Lauren Miller
Peter H. Green is a self-taught biographer. His first memoir, Ben’s War with the U.S. Marines: A World War II Biography, was based on more than 400 letters written by his father during his service. Green—the Missouri Writers Guild representative for the St. Louis Writers Guild and a SLWG board member—spoke at our June 3 workshop. The topic? Writing biographies, of course!
When writing an absorbing biography, there are some crucial points to bear in mind. First, determine why someone should care about your topic.
“If it’s an autobiography, it’s not necessarily interesting just because it happened to you,” Green cautioned. If you can connect your subject (or your) story with universal subjects, it will have a broader appeal to readers, much in the way that Tim Russert connected readers to his 1950’s upbringing with Big Russ and Me, or Maya Angelou accomplished in her coming-of-age autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Once you’ve established that your story is worthy of being told, the next question to answer is: what is the best format to do so? Does your story work best as a creative dramatization of real events? Try recreating scenes you know happened but don’t have a written account of; perhaps, if your source is still living, they may be able to recall dialogue.
Maybe historical fiction would be more appropriate (and give you more leeway in imagining what could have occurred). Fiction may also be an appropriate genre if your subject is still living and your revelations could be potentially damaging. In this case, it is best to change the names and disguise the characters so well they won’t even recognize themselves in fiction. Try adding personality traits from other people, changing their appearance, etc.
You might prefer trying a first-person biography format, as Green did completing his mother’s unfinished autobiography, Radio: One Woman’s Family in War and Pieces. Alice Green’s unique humor, dialogue, and wit set the tone for the whole book. Remember, too, the difference between a biography and a memoir: a memoir is a slice of someone’s life, whereas a biography will cover their life from cradle to grave.
Once you have established that your reader will care about your story and you’ve chosen the right genre to tell it, the next step is to collect your source material. Green recounts his process of researching for Ben’s War: “Before she died, my mom gave me a cardboard carton full of all the letters Dad sent home from the war. I was able to place his whereabouts on any given day of the war. Next, I had to research World War II.”
Finally, there is a wealth of material on historical time periods like this, so do your homework. Don’t forget that mementoes like family photographs can add a new dimension of interest. As a self-publisher, Green made the executive decision to intersperse photos throughout Radio to illustrate the story, rather than include them in a few glossy pages at the center of the book. When his editor encouraged Green to include more details on Alice’s early life, he and family members researched old family records and discovered Alice had written several articles during WW II for a newspaper about women in the war and a witty monograph about her childhood, “Why Is Alice’s Hair Always Hanging in her Eyes.”.
Photography can also assist you in recreating your family story, as can visiting those places, if possible. A historical photo found on an internet trip of Chicago’s LaSalle Street train station jogged his recollection of a long-forgotten memory of four-year-old Peter and his family, saying goodbye, perhaps for the last time, as his father left for the war. Green concluded his talk with readings from his books and an emotional recounting of events from his parents’ lives. It demonstrated how a well-written biography or memoir could be an entertaining and emotional experience for its readers. More on Peter’s writings can be found at .
For the latest information on poetry events in the St. Louis, MO area, visit the .
Second Friday Notes, second Friday of each month, 7 p.m., at Whole Foods Town & Country, Clayton Road just west of Highway 141
RIVER STYX. Third Mondays, 7:30 p.m., Tavern of Fire Arts, 313 Belt Ave. riverstyx.org/events.
POETRY AT THE POINT, 4th Tuesday of the month, at Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Ave. Read their ezine at
Sheila Nolan Whalen Reading Series at SLU, 221 N. Grand Ave., Dubourg 409.
Tuesdays at 4 p.m.
CHANCE OPERATIONS on the last Monday of each month at Tavern of the Arts, 313 Belt Ave., just off Pershing, between Union and DeBaliviere. 7:30 p.m. Open mic follows featured poets.
EVERY WEDNESDAY open mic for poetry and music at Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood (2 blocks N. of Manchester). Great food and beverages. Open mic, 8 until around 11 p.m.
GOODY HOUSE, 7 p.m., fourth Thursdays at Art Marketplace, 2028 S. 12th Street. Featured poets.
R_SPACE. Last Saturday of the month, Lenny Smith and friends at 2 p.m.
ST. LOUIS WRITERS GUILD open mic for prose and poetry, second Tuesday of each month, 7 p.m., Kirkwood Train Station, Argonne Drive, just west of Kirkwood Road. Allow time to find parking.
ADDITIONAL OPEN MICS at The Wolf, (every Tuesday), Legacy Books & Café (every Friday), The Historical Crossings (every other Tuesday), Shameless Grounds (Wednesdays at 7), Venice Café (Mondays at 9)
A Quick Guide to St. Louis Writers Guild Events
It’s as easy as
Workshops for Writers
First Saturday of every month (except holiday weekends)
10 a.m. to Noon at The Lodge Des Peres
Station Open Mic
Second Tuesday of every month
7-9 p.m. at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station
SLWG Authors Series
Third Thursday of every month
Query for “SLWG Authors Series” on YouTube or check the Members’ Room on our website, .
Brad R. Cook, author of the young adult steampunk series, The Iron Chronicles (Treehouse Publishing Group). A former co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Blank Slate Press, he is a member of SCBWI, and currently serves as Historian of St. Louis Writers Guild after three and half years as President. A founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers, he can be heard weekly as a panelist on Write Pack Radio. A cover designer since 2013, he also creates posters, bookmarks, and other marketing materials. Find more @bradrcook on Twitter, Instagram, and tumblr.
T.W. Fendley is an award-winning author of historical fantasy and science fiction for adults and young adults, including Zero Time (2011) and The Labyrinth of Time (2014). She’s a founding contributor to , a resource blog for writers. Her short stories are available on Kindle and Audible. When she’s not writing, T.W. explores the boundaries of consciousness through and shamanism. twfendley.com
Ryan P. Freeman is a fellow adventurer and fantasy author. After miraculously surviving childhood cancer and several near-death experiences, he launched into the world of AM talk radio, hosting his own live program out of Albuquerque. Ryan is a former International Red Cross guest speaker, Pastor, and medieval-enthusiast who loves sampling craft-beers and is an unapologetically proud kilt-wearer. In his down time, his interests range from exploring real-world pan-mythology, survivalist camping, and copious video gaming. For more on Ryan, check out
Steven W. Langhorst is a life-long resident of St. Louis with an insatiable hunger for the facts and trivia of St. Louis history. He is a retired elementary school principal who still serves education as a mentor and consultant focusing on leadership. Steven has dabbled in poetry and photography since his youth and still plans to publish a book of poems and photographs as well as a memoir of his years at principal. Besides holding membership in the St. Louis Writers Guild he also proudly holds a membership in the Professional Tour Guides Association of St. Louis. Steven also contributed to the design of the new St. Louis Writers Guild logo.
David Lucas is the President of St. Louis Writers Guild, a published fiction short story author and poet. He has a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University. For two years, David has been the host and producer of Write Pack Radio (WPR), a podcast with a panel of authors exploring the changing writing industry. In 2016, David decided to take his experience in podcasting and his love for radio dramas and start Winding Trails Media, which will produce podcast audio dramas beginning in the fall of 2016 as well as continuing WPR podcast.
Lauren Miller is a Midwestern-born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has seventeen years of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). Lauren is an editor and writer for The Scribe, a literary publication of the St. Louis Writers Guild, where she also serves as their Director of Communications. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who could almost be mistaken for a small dog) live in Missouri. Learn more at .
Jennifer Stolzer is an author and illustrator living and working in St. Louis, MO. She graduated from Webster University with a degree in digital media and animation and uses this skill set to create bright and engaging characters. In addition to illustrating books for clients, Jennifer writes and illustrates original work, serves as secretary for the St. Louis Writers Guild, and commentates on the weekly writing podcast Write Pack Radio. See more of Jennifer’s work at , as well as Twitter, tumblr, and Facebook.
For more than a decade, The Scribe has been the mainstay for communicating with members of the St. Louis Writers Guild. It began as a way to showcase the organization and share insights into the publishing world. Back issues give a wonderful record of the Guild. The Scribe is now available to everyone, not just members. It features stories, poems, and essays from our members, as well as information about our events, most of which are open to the public. The July 2017 edition features an article on Gateway Con and coverage of our June workshop, written by Lauren Miller.