The Value of A Writers Conference

Last month I attended RWA Nationals Conference in New York. This year was my third year attending and it is my Do-Not-Miss event each year. I also attend a lot of local conferences in Alberta, and I try to get to as many others as possible, but RWA Nationals is a must. For many reasons.

First-the opportunity to meet my online author friends, who have become such an important part of my life through social media is the number one reason I attend. Writing is often a solitary, lonely profession and having a circle of author friends that are just a Tweet or Email away is so precious. We learn from one another, we share in the joy of new contracts, new book releases, that first glimpse at new covers, etc and we vent to one another and express frustration during challenging days. So, whenever there’s an opportunity to be in the same place at the same time, I jump at the chance. Real hugs and sharing a cocktail beats virtual ones any day.


Second-the opportunity to network with editors and agents and get valuable face-to face time is worth the cost of the conference. Agent and Editor appointments are a great way to get you and your work noticed, but also the publisher spotlight events offers a lot of great insight into the options available and provides insight to what each house is looking to acquire. They explain how the acquire, how they promote, expected turnaround times on submissions and what each individual editor likes to read.

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Third-As a published author attending the conference, there’s also the wonderful perk of being invited to the publisher parties. Harlequin’s is unbeatable, but I’ve had the pleasure of attending several over the last few years and each one is fantastic. Working so hard every day, it feels great to be recognized by the publishers in this fun, exciting way. And letting loose with fellow authors and editors is another great way to connect beyond the writing.

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Fourth (And probably most important for new authors)- The workshops! RWA Nationals (as well as so many other great conferences) offers everything from Craft sessions to Marketing sessions. Each one is hosted by published, experienced and successful authors who are more than happy to share their expertise on various publishing topics. They also have research sessions that are fantastic and also chat sessions with our favorite authors. I learn so much every time I attend and while it can be an overwhelming four or five days of cramming info into my brain, I always come back feeling energized and ready to get back to work with my new knowledge. (After I sleep for a few days, of course:))

And most conferences also offer the opportunity to buy a recording of the sessions, so you don’t have to stress over which ones to attend and which ones to miss.

So, as you can tell, I highly recommend attending conferences if at all possible. The amazing contacts and friends you get to meet and the knowledge that you will take away is worth the cost and effort of attending.

Can’t wait for RWA16 in San Diego! Hope to meet you there!



So, You Want to Get Published Online?

If you answered “yes” to the question I put up in the headline, you’ve come to the right article. Being published online, let it be poetry or a short story, is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But, it’s also complicated if you’re just starting out.

I started sending my work to literary magazines about three years ago and I’ve had my fair share of rejections. At first, a lot of my rejections were coming just because I didn’t format my story to their specifications. Trust me, it is so annoying.




While magazines might have special ways they want you to format, this is the basic way to format your submission:

Use 12-point font in a basic font, such as Times New Roman or Ariel. Put 1-inch margins on edges of the page and put page numbers on the bottom of the page. Make sure to double space the document. Double spacing makes it easier to read, which is important for editors. On the top right-hand corner of the page, put your full name (the name you want to publish under), your address, your phone number and your home address.

This formatting makes it easy to read your work, which means the editor is only focusing on your story – not on the bunched up paragraphs or a crazy font. Also, putting your contact information up on the top gives them a way to contact you if they accept your submission.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to figure out one important thing – where to submit!

Go to and search for “literary magazines fiction submit”. A whole array of options should pop up, but it’s important to read the fine print so you know what’s what.

There are magazines that pay big bucks, but charge a reading fee and only lets you submit every few months. A reading fee is a fee the submitter – aka you – pays to the magazine for them to even read your work. You need to be wary of these fees, but most of these magazines pay a lot of money if accepted. For example, pays writers $50 and up, depending on the length and type of work. But this magazine’s reading fee is $25! While these types of magazines can be very rewarding, they’re a total bummer if you’re not accepted. I suggest that you only submit to these places if you have another secure, paying job.




Here’s some high-paying magazines with a reading fee:


Also, be wary of submitting times. For example, only accepts submissions from September 1st to May 31st.

There are magazines that are free to submit to, but they can’t pay you for your work. These magazines are good for one thing – exposure! To start out as a writer, you need to build fanbase. Not really anything big, but it’s good if people remember your name based on a fantastic story you’ve written. The magazines I list below are read by hordes of people, so if you get accepted, BAM! You just got some fans.

Here are some magazines it’s free to submit to:

  • The New Yorker
  • The New York Times

The key is to find a magazine that makes you comfortable.

Well, let’s review. You know now not only where to submit but how to format your submission. I would say that you’re one step closer to being a published writer. You’ll get 9 rejections for every 10 submissions, but that one acceptance will make this whole crazy job worth it. So go on, go and write!

Wherever You Go, There You Are

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Please don’t tell anybody but I’m a sucker for the underdog against all odds kind of story.  The stories where these Godawful things happen and everybody expects it all to fall apart and I’m silently praying please main protagonist please don’t do that please don’t go in there puh-lease…..

This, in essence, is how I feel about the brand new writer for hire working from home on my own road I now call mine.

When I resigned from a career I’d loved pretty much all of the time I had it, I can safely say the love was definitely gone.  Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship can tell you that you know it’s over long before the last pot is packed (or thrown at a departing figure and I’m not naming names).  Still, much like a bad relationship, maybe it wasn’t good but it was yours and you knew it.   Good, bad and all that comes in between, that’s how it was.  The thing is eventually you get to a place where,  with a nod to Anais Nin, the desire to grow overwhelms any other fear, doubt or issue you have in regards to pursuing what you really, truly honest to God–want.

Scratch want.  You NEED this, like water, oxygen, world peace and parking spaces downtown on a Monday.

You need to write to be okay. Really okay.

Enter now.

My home office is under construction, with me taking down wallpaper, comparing flooring in between working a job I  like from home that allows flexibility to write, fielding home/family/life issues, reading everything I can on freelancing and business while seeking opportunities to get this newbie writer on her two paying feet.  Or maybe I should say two paying hands.  That sounds clever.


I’m not a new writer; on the contrary, far from it.  Creative writing has been my go-to boo for so long I can admit I’ve taken him for granted pretty much our entire relationship,   I can spin a poem or pretty prose real nice-but in order to take our relationship to the next level, which is to be a full fledged writer with rates, outlines, deadlines and all, I have to, much like in a long term relationship, deal with stuff I’m not so crazy about.  Like rates, outlines, deadlines and all.

Here comes the line the great writers will include right about here. Not that I’m a great writer but I have no shame in borrowing from the best.

The irony is in the doing of what I’m not so heel kicking about, there is a deep satisfaction in knowing all of my actions add to this relationship, this actual living breathing commitment that others call writing but we who do it know it by words that are yet to be created.  This piece of my being that I can no more turn away from than I can from someone in pain, brand new school supplies or one of those free weekends at Wintergreen if you do the timeshare tour.

I’ve been known to play the sage; after all, I am grandma to six of the finest boys ever created (thanks to my DNA of course).  I have been known to tell them, when one of them is trying to avoid the inevitable of his actions, “wherever you go, there you are.” They nod in agreement, I like to think and I watch them grow a bit more as they tackle the business of facing themselves, good, bad and everything in between.

Nothing like a good underdog does it big kind of story.



Interview: Teera de Fonseka

Teera de Fonseka is a mother, a grandmother, and a writer living in Los Angeles, California. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing and walking her dog, Tigger. Writing especially has become a hobby for Teera in recent years, as she has worked to publish her memoirs. She loves to spend her days, as she puts it, “writing her heart out.”

Writing has brought Teera a great deal of peace and she wants to encourage others to write their hearts out too. She hopes that her story can touch and inspire others. After having had a chance to tell her tale, Teera wants to keep helping people. She finds inspiration in the talent that she sees in the people around her. She wants to encourage these people to do everything that they can with these talents, and to live up to their potential; to trust in God’s plan for them.

Enjoy this interview.

Teera bio picture


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I was born in Srilanka, studied at the convent of Our lady of Victories, continued at Good Shepherd Convent , finished my senior year at St.Ignatius of Loyola college.

I was employed by Brown’s Group of Companies from 1963 until I fled for the United States in 1980.

Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

Teera Cover - FrontMy book- Teera.

I want to tell the world  ‘No matter what you go through in life DONT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, DON’T EVER LET THE CHILD IN YOU LEAVE.’ I AM  SO GRATEFUL TO GOD  FOR NOT ALLOWING ANY MEAN BONES IN ME. Even the turbulence can be positive; such grace can help us see a silver line as we encounter the hurdles along the way. “Change would not come without a struggle” per author ADOLPHUS WARD.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

My writing goals are to fulfill the desire for expression.

What’s next for me is the follow up of my story.  The title – DIVINE CONNECTIONS with the subtitle I HAD TO BREAK A BONE TO MEET HER. I continue my story in honor of an amazingly beautiful girl, I consider her more of an Angel of mercy. She gave me hope at a crucial time of my life. The negative outlook at the time I had broken a bone put me in distress. I doubted that the bone would ever heal and I would be unable to have the use of my right arm again. I was in excruciating pain when she looked straight into my eyes, smiled and said ‘Teera breaking a bone is not the end, it is only a turning point in your life.’ Her uplifting words gave me Hope. I met her at the doctor’s office waiting room that morning. Her name is Kate. Her positive words inspired me and I woke up early next morning, put a pillow under my broken arm and started writing with a new attitude. The moment I changed my focus my arm got better and better. In time the bone healed, and within a few months I attended a wedding and joyfully danced the night away. I felt like I was on top of the world. A friend watched me dancing and jokingly said with a big smile ‘Teera are you sure you broke a bone’? That reminded me of a quote from MATTIE STEPANEK  “PLAY AFTER EVERY STORM” and I did. Kate amazingly happened to be a brilliant writer. She very generously and graciously guided Patrick and I to move forward with confidence. It was a very confusing time for us as we were dealing with certain unforeseen challenges.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

I have read so many interesting books but I sure hold on to the book JUST PEACE written by 13 year old Mattie Stepanak with president Jimmy Carter. Mattie passed away in 2004 at 14, affected by a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease. He made a difference before he died. There are two more books that stay close to my heart. One, I came across recently is THE WRITINGS ON THE WALL. peace at the Berlin wall.  written by Terry Tillman and GOD LOVES AN UNMADE BED. spirituality for imperfect written by Fr.Tom Allender SJ with Don Fisher, the founder of Lifes Journey Ministry.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I don’t have any rituals when it comes to my writing. I write whenever inspiration compels me. I want my writing to be natural and unforced.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I am not writing, I like to read, take long walks and watch inspirational TV programs. I also listen to spiritual leaders like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. They have brought a positive energy in to my life. Additionally, I love listening to music and volunteer where ever my help is needed. I used to multitask, but these days I have learned to slowdown and do one thing at a time.

What is one of the things you’re most thankful for as a writer?

I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to do something I love doing. I enjoy writing very much and found writing to be a great hobby to keep the mind alert. It is a great way to meditate, search the heart and soul.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

I don’t have a tool to measure the success of a writer but I am convinced that a writer must have the courage to tell the truth, be ready to be silly but cleaver and some who is willingly open to learn the simple and effective tools to complete the project  with joy.

Where can we learn more about you?

You may learn more about me on my website WWW.TEERASLIFEJOURNEY.COM

Anything else you’d like to add?

I can honestly say that finally life makes sense.

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About Teera: A Life of Hope and Fulfillment

Teera’s life was beautiful. Having grown up in the splendor of a beachside paradise, Teera settled down in a good home with the love of her life and their two gorgeous children. Filled with love, joy, and a promising future, Teera’s world was nearly perfect, until the night her husband was violently murdered while the two of them lay in bed sleeping. The assailant intended to kill her too, but Teera survived. Devastated by loss and disfigured from a gruesome facial wound, her infants still to care for, Teera learned to endure and to carry on. Yet the murder was only the beginning. It would be years before Teera escaped the turmoil she faced in Sri Lanka, finding refuge for her family in a far away land. This is Teera’s life of hope and fulfillment, a declaration of faith and of love. Honest, inspiring and heart-rending, Teera’s is an incredible saga set against an enchanting tropical landscape tainted by bloodshed and betrayal.


Book Information

Paperback: 234 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 22, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1502309599

ISBN-13: 978-1502309594

Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches

Purchase at Amazon:

Visit Teera’s Website for more info.


Six Resources for Writers

Image Source: Screen Capture by HL Carpenter

Image Source: Screen Capture by HL Carpenter

Whether you write fiction, technical guides, business white papers, or blog posts, staying on top of your craft is a must—and you don’t have to break the budget in the process. Here are six free resources that can help make your writing the best it can be.

1. Coursera — Learn or improve your word craft with courses such as Writing for Young Readers and High-Impact Business Writing. You could also choose to round out your writerly education by exploring programs in philosophy or mythology or pretty much any subject that catches your fancy. Classes are university level, conducted online in a format known as MOOCs (massive open online courses).

2. Library of Congress — Do you need to add authentic historical details to your writing? The Library of Congress offers an online digital collection of maps, photographs, newspapers, sound recordings, and films. For example, if you need to know the price of children’s good strong school shoes 100 years ago in Harlem, Montana, look up an issue of the local newspaper, The Enterprise. You’ll learn shoes regularly priced at $1.50 to $2.50 were on sale for $1 to $1.50. The paper also reports a close out of children’s gauze underwear at 10 to 25 cents per garment. (That’s the ad above in the post image.)

3. Word of the Day — Sign up for email delivery of the word of the day from Merriam-Webster. The company calls itself a provider of language information—and what could be more useful to a writer? That’s especially true if you’re not a fictioneer, which was the word of the day on May 28.

4. U.S. Copyright Office — You can read the full 1,288 pages of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition—or you can head straight to the FAQs. From basic questions such as “what is copyright” to whether you can get a star named after you and claim copyright to it, the answers are a click away. (The answer to the star question is no. Why? Because names are not copyrightable.)

5. University of Chicago Press — The Chicago Manual of Style Q&A offers answers to those perplexing grammar questions. Sign up and get each month’s question and answer resource delivered to your inbox. An example from a recent issue:

Q. Do you use a or an before a word that begins with the letter S?

A. If the S is pronounced with a hissing sound (“sss”), use a: a snack. If the S is pronounced as the letter S (“ess”), use an: an SVGA cable.

6. Google — Feeling puzzled? Lucky? Generous? Or do you simply want to know the definition of a word? Type the word “define” followed by the word you’re seeking and the definition will be at the top of the results list. Want to know the synonym or antonym of a word? Use the same method, substituting whichever group of words you need. Interested in a word’s etymology? Type “etymology” after the word.

If you use the Pomodoro time management method, type “set timer for 25 minutes.” Google will start the clock for you and an alarm will sound when your session is finished.

Is your writing project driving you loopy? Type “do a barrel roll” into the Google search bar and watch what happens.

Know of more useful free resources for fellow writers? Tell us about your discoveries in the comments.


LorriHelen for WebHL Carpenter—Read along with us!

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes sweet, clean fiction that is suitable for everyone in your family. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Connect with HL Carpenter

Our home on the web is We’re also on Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and we have an author page on Amazon.


Book Review: How to Get a Truckload of Reviews on Amazon

I first posted this review on another site and immediately afterward had a guy respond to me on Twitter several times about the word “truckload.” He said that’s a lot, are you sure it’s a truckload, and wow, a truckload, how many does that make? and on and on and until I finally told him it was a catchy title and obviously caught his attention. [Read more…]