Category Archives: Highlights

delilah learning em

This is why we love you.

(Or, “What we’re talking about when we blog about love.”)

It’s been a whirlwind week (and some change) since we closed out the fifth (cheers!) Crossroads Writers Conference. In the painful wake of saying “See ya later” to a bunch of friends, new and old, we came together for one last meeting about 2013 with an eye towards year six. The good news, of course, is that we’re all back in for another conference. We’re hitting up potential venues and hotels, checking in with some of our favorite writers and checking out some fresh faces to add to the mix. In the near-ish future, we should be able to announce a date for the 2014 Crossroads Writers Conference.

In the meantime, we’re turning to you to help us make this conference better. While we love all the positive comments, don’t be afraid to tell us what went wrong, how and what we can do to fix it. That’s how we grow. Consider each conference a draft of our latest work. We need the feedback. [And you can offer that in this anonymous survey here -- -- or by shooting me an email: chris (at) crossroadswriters (dot) org.]

As much fun as we all have at the conference, we recognize that there’s more we can do to help our Crossroads family write more and write better. We’re talking about doing some “Tweet Meets” and webinars and such. But tell us, how can we help keep you motivated? What insight can we wring from our writer friends so you can get past some tough roadblocks? Where can our lil’ community stay alive–and in what ways–while we’re waiting for the next conference?

Make your suggestions in the comments section below, via email, on Twitter or Facebook, by carrier pigeon, on the Wendig beard lice express, or with scrolls tied around arrows shot from atop galloping horses.

PS – Here are some blogs about Crossroads from some of our friends who were kind enough to join us. If you have one of your own to share, please let me know.



Blogs about Crossroads:

Tanya Kirkpatrick – “Today I Will Be Brave” – (Follow her on Twitter: @tanyawritesfic)

Jeremy Foshee – “Crossroads, Round Two” – (Follow him on Twitter: @jeremyfoshee)

Delilah S. Dawson – 30 Tips for Surviving Your First (or Any) Writing Conference” – (Follow her on Twitter: @DelilahSDawson) [Bonus Delilah post: "This Weekend"]

Shane Wilson – “But Am I A Writer?” – (Follow him on Twitter: @NomadShane)

Meaghan Walsh Gerard – “Dispatches from Crossroads 2013” – (Follow her on Twitter: @cineastesview)


This is why you registered for Crossroads

You come for the classes and the comraderie. If you’re a returning Crossroader, you already expect to have a good time, learn a bunch and leave inspired to write more. Well, here’s a run-down with (almost all) our workshops coming up this weekend.

We dare you not to be excited!



List of 2013 Crossroads Workshops


delilah_slider25 Steps to Being A Traditionally Published Author, Even Lazier Edition

Delilah Dawson

Instead of reading my 7,000-word guide to getting a traditional publishing deal, come listen to me talk about it–and answer the questions you’re afraid to ask. From finishing your first draft to getting an agent to what happens after your book is on the shelf, it’s possible to sell a book without having an MFA, a friend in publishing, or a reality TV show. Hint: it involves a lot of hard work.


IMG_1454Anatomy of a Book

Emilie P. Bush

Whether you plan to self publish or enter a deal with a commercial publisher, knowing your gutter from your half title page is important. Topics include publishing terms, an up-close and personal look at what a book interior SHOULD look like and the basic “rules” of layout.


Digital Storytelling

Tim Regan-Porter

Should you write differently for digital media? If so, how? What tools are best for telling a compelling story? This panel will address a variety of issues in writing for the web, tablets, and mobile.


Fiction Writing Tips

Cate Noble

Deconstructing story: the elements of compelling fiction, with tips for nurturing your writer’s soul.


Freelancing is Out; Entrepreurism is In

Kristin Luna

At one point in time (think: way back pre-2010), a writer could simply survive off of freelance assignments. But in 2013, the market has drastically changed and freelancers are forced to evolve with the times. Now, publications expect writers to be a one-stop shop: from the crafting of a story to the photography and right down to publicity and social media promotion. In order to rise to the top of a diluted market, there’s one thing you have to be: an entrepreneur.


CarrieHowlandGetting Past The Gatekeeper: How to get your work noticed by an agent

Carrie Howland

Getting an agent is a tricky business, and can seem overwhelming. How do you write the perfect pitch? How do you find the right agent in the first place? How do you stay out of the dreaded slush pile?! Agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, Inc. will answer these questions and more to help you on your way to finding, and building a lasting relationship with, an agent.


How to Build Your Story

Margaret South

Learn the secret of telling a great story. Master your use of turning points to heighten meaning. Give yourself the opportunity to get the story right the first time.


If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right

Joe Kovac Jr.

Tons of pointers, tips, advice and other random nonsense you may or may not need to survive the writing process. (Lesson One: It is anything but a process.) But if you sign up for this session, we’ll discuss the oft-maddening act of turning out page-turning stories, and how to know if you’re pushing yourself enough to do it.


Shawn DurhamI Wrote an Awesome Book … and You Can Too

J. Shawn Durham

So you’ve finally written that awesome, super duper, kickass best selling tome, eh? But now that you’ve penned that awesomeness, how are you gonna let the world know about it? Welcome to 21st century authorship, where it’s not just enough to be Next Faulkner, Ellison or Morrisson. You also have to get your I-net game up. You ready?


Making History Live (in Fiction)

Anthony Grooms

You’ve researched the historical facts, but how do you blend them into lively fictional scenes? The speaker will discuss strategies for scene writing for historical fiction.


Making The Most Out of Murder and Mayhem

Barry Reese

The heyday of the bloody pulps might have been the Thirties and Forties but the movement has gained new legs in recent years with the rise of New Pulp. What is it and why might it be the salvation for small press writers? Award-winning New Pulp author Barry Reese will take you through the ins and outs of the New Pulp world, including where and how you can become a part of it.


Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy

John Rhett Thomas

With expertise in website development, social media, publishing, and project management in the comics industry – both as a writer and an editor – John Rhett Thomas will field questions on a variety of discussion points, including how to get and keep a freelance writing job, operating within the “gig” economy, and working for – and as – an editor. He will also highlight the importance of “never saying no” (with a few caveats) when you start your freelance writing career. And, oh yeah, comic books.


Novel Writing 101

Sarah Domet

Have a great idea for a novel, but you can’t seem to get started? Or, have you found yourself halfway through your novel, but stuck and stumped? In this session we’ll explore novel writing basics, from character development to story arc. We’ll take a look at what drives a novel, and we’ll examine techniques and exercises to keep you focused, creative, and working toward the completion of your first draft.


Kat+ZhangPlanning the YA Trilogy

Kat Zhang

The three-book structure is getting endemic. But looking at all the cases of “second-book syndrome” and complaints about overstretched plots, do all stories fit neatly in 3 books? And how does one go about selling a trilogy anyway?


Poems from Oblique Lexicon

Judson Mitcham

My ongoing project is a collection of poems called Oblique Lexicon. Emily Dickinson said, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” and that is the guiding principle of these poems. My session will involve a reading from the collection.


David Iserson 210Putting Words in Other People’s Mouths

David Iserson

I wrote a funny young adult novel and my day job is writing for film and television. I’ll discuss how to get started in those various kinds of writing, balancing different projects at once, and if I can get it on the plane, I’ll try to bring candy.


Story Telling in a Digital Age

Erick Erickson

The attention span of the average person has shortened considerably in the digital age. Instant on, instant off, and instant change affect the experience of connecting through words. This session will focus on capturing and keeping attention in a digital age.


The Author/Editor Collaboration

Marc Jolley

Mercer University Press Editor Marc Jolley will discuss the role of an editor and the ways authors and editors collaborate to make a better book


The Not-so Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex.

Delilah Dawson

Whether you’re trying to help your female lead leap off the page or make sure your hero’s love interest isn’t just a cardboard cut-out, there’s an art to writing women. Which leads us right into romance, sizzling chemistry, and the bedroom. Things might get bawdy, but they’ll stay honest, and this once prudish Southern girl is more than happy to answer all your questions about the inside and outside workings of women in fiction.


The Seven Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing

Lauretta Hannon

Go straight to the heart of the matter as we explore the most critical lessons and solutions for your project. Expect to be energized and inspired by this lively, thought-provoking session.


Submit To Your Editrix: The Pleasure of Dominating Text

Annabelle Carr

The relationship between a writer and her editor can be intense to say the least—yet it can yield transcendent results. As both a consumer nonfiction editor and a literary fiction writer, I’ve put considerable thought into that delicate balance between dominance and submission. In this session, we’ll explore the twisted psyche of the magazine editrix and learn from some of literature’s greatest copyslingers. Think of it as text therapy for your freelance career.


BerniceMcFaddenTrusting the Voice: The Art of Listening, Writing and Living

Bernice L. McFadden

It’s easier to trust the creative process when you also trust that a greater force is guiding that process. Bernice L. McFadden discusses her personal journey from aspiring writer to published author by moving beyond fear by believing that a greater force was guiding her creative process.


Writer VS. Studio

Adam Torchia

The process of screenplay development in the contemporary movie studio. This will include both the studio and writer’s perspective, the art of navigating the fine line between art and business.


Andrew-Hartley-02_-300x214Writing in Multiple Genres

A.J. Hartley

Most successful writers work in only genre, and trying to do otherwise can be dangerous for both your craft and your career. But only writing one kind of book has perils of its own–not least of which is boredom for the author and his or her readers. This session will explore the issues and possible solutions for writers trying to navigate writing and publishing in more than one category.


Writing Poems That Get Published

Kelly Whiddon

Want to write poems for a bigger audience than your mom and your cat? This session will tell you how to construct poems that sing off the page and have editors take notice.


IMG_1435Writing Stories That Will Sell

Nathan Edmondson

Want to write like it’s your job? Or have a job writing? All you need to do is throw some sex and gunplay into the plot, maybe blow a car or two up, and you’re halfway there. Or is there more to it?




lo co crop

Walk Down to… Authors’ Avenue

Apply for Authors’ Avenue

You’ve toiled through first (and second and third … and 10th) drafts, made those tough edits and worked out all the bugs. Whether published by a big-time (or small-time) press or by dint of your own sweat, blood and hard-earned money, your biggest challenge may still lay ahead of you: Getting your book in a reader’s hands. Well, maybe Crossroads can help. That’s the idea behind Authors’ Avenue.

On Friday, October 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Macon, we’re joining forces with the city’s popular First Friday event and lining lower Cotton Avenue (Lo Co, if you will) with bookwrights such as yourself. We’re headlining the event with readings by Kevin Coval (co-founder of Louder Than a Bomb and author of “Schtick” and “L-Vis Lives!”), novelist Bernice McFadden (“Gathering of Waters” and “Sugar”), and YA author Kat Zhang (“What’s Left of Me” and “Once We Were”), among others. Macon native Shawn Durham, author of “Broke Brothers Revolution,” is emceeing performances by Trendlenburg, Poetic Peace and Storytellers.

There’s no cost to attend, but if you’re one of the applicants chosen, there will be a fee of $35 to help defray the costs of the event. For a shot at getting a space at Authors’ Avenue, you have to apply, which you can do by clicking here. We’ll make our final decisions by September 23, 2013 and notify our selections that day.

If you have any questions, post it below or shoot me an email at


“To Outline, Or Not to Outline? That’s a Contentious Question”: An Interview with Sarah Domet

Creative writing professor Sarah Domet is author of "90 Days to Your Novel"

Sarah Domet, author of “90 Days to Your Novel”

A favorite at Crossroads, Sarah Domet is the author of “90 Days to Your Novel” (Writer’s Digest Books). She earned her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from The University of Cincinnati in 2009, and she now teaches in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University. She has published her fiction and nonfiction in many journals, most recently New Delta Review, Harpur’s Palate, Beloit Fiction Journal, Juked, Barely South Review, Talking Writing, Bitch Flicks, and Bluestem. She recently completed her novel, “Altar Girls,” the first draft of which she wrote in 90 Days. For more information, visit her website:


“To Outline, Or Not to Outline? That’s a Contentious Question”: An Interview with Sarah Domet

by Kathy Holzapfel


Kathy Holzapfel: Your book – “90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book” – outlines a step-by-step process to a completed novel. Can you explain the advantages of deadlines?

domet_90daysSarah Domet: So many people say “one day I’ll write a novel,” but “one day” is often pushed to the next day, then the next day, then indefinitely. Those who wait for “one day” to show up knocking on their doors wearing horn-rimmed glasses and demanding their manuscripts ASAP will wind up waiting a long time.

As a teacher of writing, I appreciate deadlines, but I also recognize that individuals often arise to the challenges placed before them. A deadline is just that—a challenge. Stephen King famously noted that first drafts should be written in no more than three months. And many famous (and not so famous) writers feel similarly.

Writing a novel can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. Staring at the first blank page, knowing you have hundreds more to write, recognizing the truth of the matter, that you’ll literally sit in front of your computer, alone, for hours, days, months until this thing is finished—that’s a moment that can overwhelm even the most seasoned writer. Clear deadlines remind us that habits—good habits—go further than inspiration when writing a novel. Or, as Mary Heaton Vorse reminds us, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”


KH: The book proposes daily – or nearly daily – writing stints. What tips can you offer for the time-crunched?

SD: I was recently talking to a friend who happens to also be a teacher, a scientist, a mother, and a wife, among her other roles and responsibilities. She’s a writer, too—at work on her novel. To get her pages written each day this summer, she got in her car, drove to a scenic spot, and sat in what she termed her “mobile office” pecking away at her book.

I love imagining her writing in her car, gazing out at the ducks floating on a pond as she contemplates her next line. But, more importantly, I think this story illustrates the simple truth: If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find the time.

For those who are really time-crunched, either learn to consolidate time or write in spurts. Reserve a weekend afternoon for writing, or draft a few pages on your lunch break. Get up earlier or go to bed later. Carve out the time wherever you can. Find what works for you.

And always carry a notebook to jot down those novel-worthy ideas when you’re too busy to sit down at your computer. I can’t tell you how many of my “great” ideas have disappeared into the ether simply for the fact that I forgot to write them down.


This will be my third year presenting at Crossroads. I come back because of the people: The planners, the presenters, the attendees. Quite honestly, I’d be a little sad if I weren’t a part of it. – Sarah Domet


KH: Your book offers an in-depth method for outlining. Can you go over the components covered?

SD: Outlines are a real point of contention for writers. Some adamantly attest that outlines thwart creativity, while others swear by them. I happen to fall closer to the latter category. When you have at least some general sense of where your story might be leading you, you’ll free up your mind to do the fun stuff that novel writing entails: developing characters, creating unique worlds, playing with language. Outlines needn’t be viewed as restrictive or prescriptive. Writing is an art, after all, and like any art there’s a little bit of magic to it.

“90 Days to Your Novel” takes the writer through the whole process—from idea generation to completed manuscript. However, I’ve noticed many other writing guides focus only on the discrete components of writing, such as character, plot, setting, dialogue, etc., without discussing how these components all come together to form a story. That is, you don’t first write characters, then write plot, then write setting. You write interweave all these elements at once. It’s a balancing act.

A solid outline helps you consider your story more holistically. Where will you begin? Where will you end? How will you get there? Most people who, half-way through, give up on writing their novels do so because they can’t figure out where their story is going. They get stuck. Outlines can help unstick you.


KH: The objective of the outlining process is a chronological scene list. What are the benefits of writing one scene at a time?

SD: Every scene must accomplish important work in a novel; each scene must carry its own weight, while revealing a part of the big picture. Some scenes work toward developing character, some work to forward the plot, some deepen the drama or heighten the conflict, and some accomplish all these things at once.

Writers need to master the art of gazing outward and downward, like a quarterback who must both observe his immediate surroundings, so he doesn’t get sacked, while also looking downfield for the pass. Channel your inner quarterback, even if you’ve never played a sport in your life. Writing your novel scene by scene, from start to finish, helps you understand how the parts are related to the whole.

On another note, writing scene by scene allows you see the very real and physical way that the pages add up. That’s the fun part.


KH: The end goal of the 90 days process is a solid first draft novel. What then? Can you share insights on revision?

Nathan and SarahSD: Revision. Oh, the agony. You spend 90 days writing a book, and just when you think you’ve finished, the real work begins. Revision turns good novels into great novels, so it’s important work.

When writing a first draft, practice the art of letting go—don’t restrain your writing or your characters. Instead, create over-the-top scenarios, experiment with voice, wax philosophical about the invention of the Snuggy, tell off-color jokes that you never would repeat in real life. Just get the words down on the page.

Then take a break. Better yet, go on a vacation.

When you come back to your novel, again, practice the art of letting go. But this time in a different way. Let go of what doesn’t work. Let go of characters who may not contribute to your story, even if you love them. Let go of your perceptions about the book you wanted to write, and take a closer look at what your novel has become. What are your characters telling you?

There’s no one correct way to write a novel, no magic bullet. Trust yourself—you’re usually your own best guide. Keep in mind the words of Carl Sandburg: “Beware of advice—even this.”


KH: You’re a repeat presenter at the Crossroads Writers Conference. What’s a high point from last year?

SD: So many high points from last year! The entire conference buzzed with good writerly mojo. I met and re-met some seriously cool writers. Chris Baty’s keynote address, among others, inspired me: “Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.” Sometimes we all need a little reminder of that.


KH: What brings you back to the Crossroads Conference in 2013?

SD: This will be my third year presenting at Crossroads. I come back because of the people: The planners, the presenters, the attendees. Quite honestly, I’d be a little sad if I weren’t a part of it.


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the Crossroads 2013 Schedule

Hello friends, sorry it took us so long. There was just a lot of awesome to cram into one weekend.

When you’re looking it over, remember how the registration works:

  • Short Story ticket gets you in just the Saturday daylight sessions
  • Pen & Paper gets you into Friday and Saturday’s sessions (and it includes lunch)
  • Storyteller Deluxe gets you in Friday, Saturday and Sunday sessions plus your lunch on Saturday and two after-hours socializing events and the new Crossroads shirt.




1 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Welcome & Keynote by Delilah Dawson


1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 1

Room A – Writing Stories about Ordinary People – Ed Grisamore

Room B – Freelancing – Anabelle Carr

Room C – Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy – Rhett Thomas


2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 2

Room A – If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right – Joe Kovac

Room B – The Writer/Editor Collaboration – Marc Jolley

Room C – Writing Stories That Will Sell – Nathan Edmondson


3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 3

Room A – Digital Storytelling – Tim Regan-Porter

Room B – Fiction Writing and Promotion – Shawn Durham

Room C – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland


4:15 p.m. – 6 p.m. – FREE TIME


6 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Author’s Avenue: Readings, Signings, Music & More in Downtown Macon


8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Social Hour for Authors & Storyteller Deluxe Ticket Holders





7:30 a.m. – Registration opens

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. – Opening remarks

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – An Author Meets Her Agent: A conversation with Cat Scully & Carrie Howland

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 Breakout Block 1

Room A – Revising Your Teenage Voice – Lauren Morrill

Room B – Advice from a Writing Coach – Sarah Domet

Room C – The 7 Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing – Lauretta Hannon

Room D – Fiction Panel: Bernice McFadden, Cate Noble and Anthony Grooms

Room E – Poems from the Oblique Lexicon – Judson Mitcham


10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Breakout Block 2

Room A – Young Adult Fiction – David Iserson

Room B – Making History Live – Anthony Grooms

Room C – Poetry – Kevin Coval

Room D – The Writing Life Panel : Carrie Howland, Sarah Domet, Emilie Bush and Marc Jolley

Room E – Writing Stories That Sell – Nathan Edmonson



11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Breakout Block 3

Room A – Making the Most Out of Murder and Mayhem – Barry Reese

Room B – How to Build Your Story – Margaret South

Room C – Freelancing Is Out, Entrepreneurship Is in – Kristin Luna

Room D – Young Adult Fiction Panel: David Iserson, AJ Hartley, Jackson Pearce, Kat Zhang and Lauren Morrill

Room E – Fiction Writing Tips – Cate Noble


***12:15-2:00 Lunch in Mercer Village with Authors & Guest***

Pen & Paper and Storyteller Deluxe ticket holders get $10 lunch voucher for Mercer Village restaurants


2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m. Breakout Block 4

Room A – The Not-So Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex. – Delilah Dawson

Room B – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland

Room C – Young Adult Fiction – Jackson Pearce

Room D – Freelance Panel: Kristin Luna, Annabelle Carr, and Leila Regan-Porter

Room E – Writing Poems That Get Published – Kelly Whiddon


3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m. Breakout Block 5

Room A- Writing in Multiple Genres – AJ Hartley

Room B – Graphic Novels with Rhett Thomas

Room C – Writer vs. Studio with Adam Torchia

Room D – Journalism & New Media Panel: Erick Erickson, Tim Regan-Porter and Adam Ragusea

Room E – 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author (Even Lazier Edition) – Delilah Dawson


4:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. Breakout Block 6

Room A – Planning the YA Trilogy with Kat Zhang

Room B - Storytelling in the Digital Age – Erick Erickson

Room C – Anatomy of a Book with Emilie Bush

Room D – Screenwriting Panel with David Iserson and Adam Torchia

Room E – Trusting the Voice: the Art of Listening, Writing and Living – Bernice McFadden


5 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Author Book Signing


VIDEO: Chris Baty at Crossroads 2012

“Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.”

National Novel Writing Month started almost in jest between friends. Its founder, Chris Baty, never expected hundreds of thousands of people to one day attempt it. He never thought so many of them would finish a 50,000 word novel over a November of writing insanity. And of those, that any would be published by a major press, let alone more than 100. Or that, in the case for “Like Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, be made into a major motion picture.

But you don’t watch a cultural phenomenon like this unfold without learning a few things along the way. On October 6, 2012, Chris Baty shared with us Crossroaders the highlights of his hard-won lessons.

We won’t spoil the surprise. Just press play for a shot of inspiration, courtesy of Chris Baty.