Saturday, June 25, 2011

MGOC Events: Photos from the Book Launch Party at Seton Hill U, 6/24

Seton Hill University and the WPF Alumnae hosted the official book launch of Many Genres One Craft on Friday, June 24. The event, attended by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Cathy Teets owner of Headline Books, Inc., the publisher of the writing guide, featured about 30 contributors and other Seton Hill writers and their fiction. The turnout was tremendous.

Photos of the event can be seen online here:

* Heidi Ruby Miller's weblog

* Michael Arnzen's social network page

Thanks to everyone who came out and picked up a copy of the book!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Thomas F. Monteleone


EXCERPT from "No Such Thing as Original Sin" by Thomas F. Monteleone in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

I’m going to talk about something rarely discussed in all those books and articles about writing: the need to be original.

Editors learn early in the game their primary job is to find reasons to reject your story or novel—some of the classics include poor grammar, bad dialogue, wooden characters, and absence of plot—and my job is to warn you off another easy one (for them, not for you). There are plenty of words for it: trite, clichéd, predictable, familiar, and when we’re feeling stylish, prosaic. But they all indicate the same story ailment, which is the inability of the writer to tell an original story, or worst case, a familiar story in an original fashion.


Tom Monteleone has published more than 100 short stories, many which have been nominated for awards, and is editor of seven anthologies, including the highly acclaimed Borderlands series edited with his wife, Elizabeth. He has written award-winning works for the stage and television, including for American Playhouse, George Romero’s Tales from the Darkside, and a series on Fox TV entitled Night Visions. Of his thirty-six books, The Blood of the Lamb received the 1993 Bram Stoker Award and The New York Times Notable Book of the Year Award. He also wrote the bestseller, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel (2004). He recently moved from New Hampshire to Maryland with his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Olivia.

MGOC Events: Morgantown Poets Feature Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller

The Morgantown Poets hosted Many Genres contributors Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller for an evening of readings and discussions at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, WV.

Jason read a chapter from his novel The Devil and Preston Black, which is set in Morgantown, WV. He also debuted the first chapter for Hellbender, the next novel in the Appalachian Gothic series.

Heidi started with her poems "Five parsecs away" (SCIFAIKUEST, 2007) and "Robot knows" (SCIFAIKUEST, 2008) then read her essay "Tomorrow's Kiss: The Duality of SF Romance" from Many Genres before reading excerpts from her first novel in the Ambasadora series.

Many thanks to Scott Emerson for arranging this fun evening, and to all of the Morgantown Poets for not only hosting, but also for sharing their incredible work.

posted by heidi

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MGOC Contributor: M. A. Mogus

photo by Marilyn McSparrin

EXCERPT from "Set in History" by M. A. Mogus in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

An historical setting is not just the time period, it is the context in which your story develops. It consists of descriptions of physical surroundings, life-ways/customs and culture, dominant modes of thoughts and beliefs, clothing, food, artifacts, as well as all other things that make the time period come alive for your reader. The setting is an important factor for it influences the mood of the story and often places subtle constraints on character behavior, plot, and pacing. You must know your historical period and locale well enough to develop your story within the historical setting that you choose.


M. A. Mogus taught physics at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. She does research and freelance writing in a number of areas and genres. She has authored several interactive murder mystery plays that have been performed as fund raisers. Her second book The Lethe Gene was released in 2009. Her short story "Finders Keepers" appeared in the 2010 Loyalhanna Review.

MGOC Contributor News: Adrea Peters and Teffanie White Launch Pictureless Books AlphaTapp App


A B S O L U T E L Y !

Pictureless Books, a Kindle e-book series by co-authors Teffanie T. White and Adrea L. Peters that plays with the alphabet to inspire humans and honor the immense power of well-chosen words, launches AlphaTapp App for iPhones, iPads and iPods today. The AlphaTapp App features alphabetically organized vocabularies that uplift, surprise, teach, question, provoke and pay homage to positive words, and will allow users to:

Spell a word to create a good word anagram or acronym
Email an entire good word or love card to someone special
Post a word to a friend’s Facebook page or on their own
Shuffle or Shake the deck for a surprisingly good word

The App is based upon Pictureless Books’ series of science, math, wellness, art, and learning inspired e-books, and their encouraging alphabets.

I is for Invigorated and I is for Inspiration (the i m a g i n a t i o n series)
W is for Walnut (w e l l n e s s series)
E is for El Nino (the e x p l o r e series)
C is for Canvas (the c a n v a s series)
A is for Apple and A is for Angel (the a n g e l series)
N is for Never Night and Ur Txtbk (the n o t h i n g series)

Each Pictureless Book is individually priced at $2.99 on AlphaTapp, which bundles the categories into six digital decks of cards, is also $2.99 for a promotional period.

The words in each deck and e-book are arranged to emphasize the word in its purest form, without pictures. “We’ve chosen to promote imagination by emphasizing words, one letter at a time. We hope this will inspire the player’s mind to wander and conjure very personal images and meanings,” White said.

White and Peters are often asked how they select their words. “Beyond loving words and avoiding obvious new-age inspiration that’s been done before, all of our words must pass through a filter: Is it fun? Does it feel good? Does it ignite my imagination?” said Peters.

White used the idea for good words as inspiration more than a decade ago when she was teaching in inner city Houston. After months of negative energy in the classroom, White resolved to change her life and theirs purely through new vocabulary.

“We began using positive, inventive words to end each class,” said White. “Every student had to come up with a positive new vocabulary word each day – but no trite words or repeats were allowed. The entire exercise was life-affirming for every person in the room.”

White allowed this “big idea” to marinate for years until she met co-author Adrea Peters at Seton Hill’s writing popular fiction program in 2005. Peters brought White’s vision to life through a hardcover Pictureless Books prototype that she designed as a gift for White. Together, they imagined and then created a book series that would be accessible, affordable and environmentally responsible.

Find Pictureless on the web:




iTunes app store:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Karen Lynn Williams

photo by Martha Rial

EXCERPT from "Writing from Place Across Cultures" by Karen Lynn Williams in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Travel and living abroad is one way, we, as writers, can move outside of our comfort zone and tap the muse within. When I am living outside of my own culture, everything is new and fresh and the material for my stories jumps out at me. I am hyper- aware of everything that goes on around me. The challenge is to capture the essence of the culture, and to write honestly and authentically from the experience in a way that I can bring the story home and readers can share my passion for the place, the people and the culture.


EXCERPT from "If You Write It, They Will See It: Picture Book Illustrations from the Writer's Point of View" by Karen Lynn Williams in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Every picture book writer has a visual image in her mind of what the illustrations will look like. The finished illustrated book rarely meets the writer’s exact expectations and often the images take the story far beyond anything the author could have imagined. How can a writer learn to let her work go with confidence that the written story and images will compliment each other so that the final project will be stronger than either of the two parts alone?

I was elated when my first picture book sold to a publishing company…for about ten minutes. Then it hit me. How can they find an illustrator who will do the subject justice?


Karen Lynn Williams is the author of more than twelve picture books, chapter books and young YA books and a number of stories, articles and poems for various publications. She has lived with her husband and four children in Malawi, Africa and in Haiti and has traveled extensively. Much of her published work is based on these experiences. Karen lives and writes in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and teaches in the graduate creative writing programs at Seton Hill University and Chatham University. Visit her online at


Many Genres will have a massive book signing at Seton Hill University -- a great opportunity for people in the area to not only buy the book, but get it signed by the many contributors in attendance. The launch will be part of a wine reception and book signing by Writing Popular Fiction alumni at the college. Here is a copy of the official press release from Seton Hill University...


Subject: Seton Hill U. Fiction Authors Sign Books at Wine Reception 6/24

Seton Hill University

Office of Public Information

June 20, 2011

News Release

Media contact:
Kary Coleman Hazen, Director of Media Relations 724-830-1069 (work) 724-825-8505 (cell) /

Seton Hill U. Fiction Authors Sign Books at Wine Reception 6/24

Celebration Launch of WPF Alumni “Many Genres, One Craft”

GREENSBURG, Pa. –More than 50 authors associated with the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University will participate in a joint book signing and wine reception on Friday, June 24, from 7-9 p.m. in Seton Hill University’s Katherine Mabis McKenna Center lounge located on the University’s hilltop campus in Greensburg, Pa. The event will launch “Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction,” a writing guide featuring contributions from Seton Hill University Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction Program faculty and alumni. This book signing event is sponsored by the Writing Popular Fiction Alumni Group. Both the book signing and wine reception are open to the public; the cost of the wine reception is $10 per person. For more information, contact Emily Heinicka at 724-830-1005.

“Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction” is an anthology of more than 60 instructional articles for fiction writers seeking advice on how to improve their writing and navigate the mass market for genre novels. The collection of articles is divided into three parts, craft, genre and the writer’s life. Each of the 60 contributors of “Many Genres, One Craft” is a faculty member, visiting author or published graduate from the Seton Hill University Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction Program.

Contributors to “Many Genres, One Craft” include Michael Arnzen, Rebecca Baker, Shelley Bates, Michael Bracken, Gary A. Braunbeck, Jennifer Brisendine, Crystal B. Bright, Sally Bosco, Christopher Paul Carey, Ginger Clark, Lawrence C. Connolly, David J. Corwell, Susan Crandall, Kaye Dacus, Penny Dawn, John DeChancie, C. Coco DeYoung, Matt Duvall, Natalie Duvall, Ron Edison, Elaine Ervin, Timons Esaias, Tess Gerritsen, Venessa Giunta, Leslie Davis Guccione, Anne Harris, W.H. Horner, Lee Allen Howard, KJ Howe, Russ Howe, Scott A. Johnson, Nancy Kress, Chun Lee, Patrice Lyle, Susan Mallery, Dana Marton, Lee McClain, Mike Mehalek, Sharon Mignerey, Barbara J. Miller, Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller, M.A. Mogus, Thomas F. Monteleone, David Morrell, Catherine Mulvany, Nicole Peeler, Adrea L. Peters, Patrick Picciarelli, Steven Piziks, Rachael Pruitt, Lynn Salsi, Mary SanGiovanni, David Shifren, Randall Silvis, Lucy A. Snyder, Maria V. Snyder, Victoria Thompson, Diane Turnshek, Tim Waggoner, Albert Wendland, Teffanie Thompson White, Karen Lynn Williams, Ryan M. Williams and K. Ceres Wright.

Additional authors featuring their work at the book signing include Diana Botsford, Marge Burke, Judi Fleming, Alexis Graves, Meg Mims and Linda Rodkey Ciletti.

Seton Hill’s unique Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program teaches students to write marketable novels in popular genres like mystery, romance, science fiction, horror and fantasy. Additional specialties include literature for children and adolescents, and cross-genre blends like romantic suspense or young adult mysteries. Students attend two weeklong, on-campus residencies each year to master the core elements of fiction writing and effective marketing and to gain inspiration from faculty mentors and special guests, all published authors in genre fiction. Established authors mentor students one-on-one as they work toward completing a market-ready manuscript from home. Readings, classes and online discussion about the history, trends and techniques of genre fiction add depth to the student's experience. For more information about the Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill, visit or contact Seton Hill’s Office of Graduate and Adult Studies at 724-838-4209.

Seton Hill University, founded in 1885 by the Sisters of Charity, is a coeducational Catholic liberal arts university in Greensburg, Pa. Seton Hill offers more than 30 undergraduate programs, eight graduate programs, and four graduate certificate programs. For more information on Seton Hill please visit or call 1-800-826-6234.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Many Genres event at the HWA's 2011 Stoker Award Weekend

Many Genres authors Michael Arnzen, Sally Bosco, Lawrence C. Connolly, and David Morrell were in attendance at the Horror Writers Association's annual Bram Stoker Award Weekend in Uniondale, NY, where a book signing and open discussion was held. Arnzen read from his contribution, "Genre Unleashed"; Sally Bosco described her chapter on Manga and her experiences in the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction MFA program and Lawrence Connolly discussed the profession of teaching and its relation to writing. In addition to the signing, Michael also gave a writing workshop called "Horror Unbound" which referenced his chapter on "Psyching Out Readers" from Many Genres.

A few photos are below -- to view more photos from throughout the entire weekend, check out Mike Arnzen's new social networking home page:

Audience members included Seton Hill alums Kristin Dearborn and Paul Popiel.

Arnzen, Connolly and Bosco pose for a photo after their book talk.

Fun at the book signing...the book's size impressed all.

David Morrell at the mass autograph signing (seated: Peter Straub).

Seton Hill faculty and alums together took a day trip to Amityville to visit the famous horror house.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Jason Jack Miller

photo by Heidi Ruby Miller

EXCERPT from "Painting Your Setting with Concrete Nouns" by Jason Jack Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Concrete nouns may not be your croissants and Beurre des Charentes, but they should be.

Concrete nouns help authoritative authors establish dominion over setting by showing readers that the action isn’t taking place in a fluffy, generic anywhere. Concrete nouns show without telling. Time period, seasons, political climate, socio-economic situations and social mores can all be demonstrated by the nouns an author utilizes to animate his settings. Tim Esaias, one of my mentors at Seton Hill, once told me that “every concrete noun paints a picture”, and at the time, being more specific with my nouns transformed my prose into a much more concise and believable product.


EXCERPT from "Setting Limits: Working in Small Spaces" by Jason Jack Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Every story doesn’t need a million square miles to unfold in. Even when used in small doses, setting can still play a pivotal role in plot development. Here are five plots that worked really well in a limited setting.

Marko Ramius plays hide-and-seek with a Soviet sub. And in a Soviet sub.

CUJO by Stephen King
Ralph Nader never mentioned that Ford Pintos were rabid dog magnets too.


EXCERPT from "Magical Realism as Genre: Or, Waiter, There's an Angel in My Soup" by Jason Jack Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Loosely defined as the mundane made fantastic, magical realism can be an elusive concept to writers and readers with both feet firmly planted in this world. Consider as accessible examples the realistic settings of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth or Tim Burton’s Big Fish, based on the novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace.

Magical realism is essentially indigenous belief surviving in the modern world. Isabelle Allende described the concept much more eloquently, saying, "... magic realism is a literary device or a way of seeing in which there is space for the invisible forces that move the world: dreams, legends, myths, emotion, passion, history. . ."(Allende 54-58).

EXCERPT from "Essential Magical Realism" by Jason Jack Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (the Bible of magical realism)

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (a book lover's magical realism)

Life of Pt by Yann Martel ("wait, it gets weirder" magical realism)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (magical realism meets science fiction)


Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician who has been hassled by cops in Canada, Mexico and the Czech Republic. An outdoor travel guide he co-authored with his wife in 2006 jumpstarted his freelancing career; his work has since appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, online, and as part of a travel guide app for mobile phones. Several of his articles are in the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft. He received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill where he is adjunct creative writing faculty and he is an Authors Guild member. He's been a whitewater raft guide, played guitar in a garage band and served as a concierge at a five star resort hotel in Florida. When he isn't writing, he's on his mountain bike or looking for his next favorite guitar. He is currently writing and recording the soundtrack to his novel, The Devil and Preston Black. Find him at

Many Genres One Craft Virtual Book Tour (VBT)

Our recent VBT stops for Many Genres, One Craft are:

Stop: At Your Fingertips
At Your Fingertips highlights the work of author Tamela Quijas and that of her fellow authors, but isn’t only about the latest romance novels on the market. Stay for a while and you’ll find her reviews on a variety of books and movies, fantastic author interviews, sneak peeks into upcoming book releases, recipes, as well as being granted a private look into Tamela's world.
Host: Tamela Quijas
Tamela is a romance author that loves to write–from paranormal to contemporary romances and an occasional cookbook. Her work includes the novels Blood Moon, Blood of the Beast, My Lord Raven, Angel's Fire Demon's Blood.
Event: Ratio of Romance
Contributor: Heidi Ruby Miller

Stop: Born to Write
Fantasy, Horror, and Science Fiction! Alexa Grave reviews books, comments on the craft of writing, and talks about her own journey as a writer.
Host: Alexa Grave
Alexa Grave is a fantasy writer trying to break into the cut-throat market. She has a Master of Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. And please, at least pretend you think some of the stuff she says in her blog is funny - it makes her feel a little less like a dork.
Event: MGOC Series on Fantasy
Contributor: Anne Harris

Stop: Gorelets
Michael Arnzen's weblog and Bram Stoker award-winning newsletter features a department of weird, sick and crazy "prompts" (a.k.a. "story starters") for creative writers working on the dark side.
Host: Michael A. Arnzen
Our co-editor of Many Genres One Craft teaches in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at Seton Hill University. He holds four Bram Stoker Awards for his often funny, always disturbing horror fiction. Visit him at to find out more.
Event: Dark Promptings
Contributor: Jason Jack Miller

Stop: Heidi Ruby Miller
Read author interviews and thoughts about the blended genre of Science Fiction Romance at Heidi Ruby Miller's blog.
Host: Heidi Ruby Miller
Heidi Ruby Miller writes stories where the relationship is as important as the adventure, just like in her debut SF Romance novel AMBASADORA. She is co-editor of MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT.
Event: David J. Corwell
HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Venessa Giunta
HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Albert Wendland
HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Teffanie Thompson White
Contributors: Michael Bracken
Crystal B. Bright
David J. Corwell
C. Coco DeYoung
Venessa Giunta
Lee Allen Howard
Adrea L. Peters
David Shifren
Albert Wendland
Teffanie Thompson White

Stop: Kate N. Ryan, Romance AuthorWatching You Sleep--Comic book store-owner Abigail “Abby” Kirkman believes her life complete. She runs a successful business, has a fantastic studio apartment above her store, and lives in a picturesque sea-side town. Life is perfect unless you count the insomnia, and the fact that her last boyfriend dumped her to take a promotion in another city. So a few little bumps, but nothing she can’t handle.
Host: Kate N. Ryan
Kate and Ryan are living their own happily ever after in Western Washington with their son on a small acreage, combining geek enthusiasm with modern homesteading.
Event: What Makes My Work Romance?
Contributor: Alayne Adams

Stop: Phylactery of Nightmares & Dreams: The Webspace of W. D. Prescott
For discussions, reviews, and previews of all things dark.
Host: W. D. Prescott
W. D. is a good ol’ New Hampshire boy currently living as an ex-pat in the swirling doom of New Jersey. With an equal passion for writing and music, it’s no wonder that he has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theory and Composition from Simon’s Rock College. He went on to Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program for my M.A. His stories have been published in Tainted: Tales of Terror and the Supernatural and Dead Bells.
Event: SHU WPF Spotlight Series: Many Genres One Craft

Stop: Time Discovers Truth
Sharing history, research, tips, trailers, travel, maps, and books.
Host: Meg Mims
Meg Mims is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. An award-winning author, she writes historical mysteries and romantic suspense on the fiction side.
Event: Wednesday Spotlight
Contributor: Ryan M. Williams

There's still time to be a host. Email Heidi Ruby Miller at for details!

To order a copy of Many Genres, One Craft, visit:
Barnes & Noble
Powell's Books
Books A Million
and other fine book sellers!

posted by heidi

Monday, June 13, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Susan Crandall

photo by Studio 16

EXCERPT from "Setting as a Character: It's More than a Backdrop" by Susan Crandall in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Imagine this. Scarlet O’Hara with a Brooklyn accent. The Grapes of Wrath set in contemporary northern Minnesota. The trial in To Kill a Mockingbird taking place in an urbane Chicago courtroom. Impossible you say? You’re absolutely right.

Not all fiction is so blatant in its need for a specific setting. Still, no matter what genre you write, your novel will benefit from proper setting selection and world building.

Countless hours go into developing characters and outlining plots, both of which are necessary to deliver the ultimate reading experience to your audience. But how do you choose your setting? Because you like a particular place? Because you’re familiar with the layout and the atmosphere? Do you pull it willy-nilly out of a hat?


In Susan Crandall’s first six novels are women’s fiction with an edge of mystery and suspense. Her debut novel, Back Roads, was published in 2003 and garnered numerous national awards, including Romance Writers of America’s coveted RITA for best first book and two National Reader’s Choice awards. She’s also been nominated for a Publishers Weekly Quill Award. With her seventh novel, Pitch Black, she switched to full-fledged suspense. All of her novels are published by Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing). Susan lives in Indiana.

Arnzen and Miller Interview with the The Big Thrill

Editors Mike Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller were interviewed by the International Thriller Writers organization for The Big Thrill webzine. A chatty and entertaining podcast will also be featured by the ITW in July.

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of authors, both fiction and nonfiction, who write books broadly classified as “thrillers.” This would include (but isn’t limited to) such subjects as murder mystery, detective, suspense, horror, supernatural, action, espionage, true crime, war, adventure, and myriad similar subject areas. Their mission is "to bestow recognition and promote the thriller genre at an innovative and superior level" and they do this through awards, conferences, and other forms of community. Join the ITW or attend THRILLERFEST -- one of the greatest writing conferences for popular fiction around -- held annually in New York each July.

Contributors to our book, Many Genres, One Craft, who are also current ITW members include: David Morrell, KJ Howe, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Arnzen, Susan Crandall, Scott Johnson, Thomas Monteleone, Mary SanGiovanni, and Tim Waggoner. Meet some of them at Thrillerfest VI (July 6-9th, 2011 in NY).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Ron Edison

Ron Edison

EXCERPT from "Put a Little Love in Your Plot: The Perks and Perils of Romantic Subplots" by Ron Edison in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Love has always been a part of popular fiction. Zane Grey referred to his westerns as "romances," and writing before the term "science fiction" was coined, Edgar Rice Burroughs called his interplanetary and prehistoric adventures "scientific romances." These usually involved lovers separated by fate or the deeds of a dastardly villain and dramatized the hero’s ride to the rescue. If your story seems a little flat, your characters a bit two-dimensional, think about adding a dash of romance. It might be the ingredient your novel is missing.


EXCERPT from "Prevention: Techniques to Control Romance" by Ron Edison in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Adding romance can be challenging for some genres. Use these tips to keep on track:

1. Focus on character
Romance blends easier with stories that are character-driven rather than plot driven.

2. Don't start a chapter with a romance scene
Lead with scenes from the main plot. Use afterthoughts at the end of a scene or chapter for romantic musing.


Ron Edison graduated from Seton Hill’s WPF program in 2006 with a focus in mystery. Day jobs have found him dabbling at teacher, programmer, instructional designer, technical writer, and agent of a foreign government. He currently works at the Chicago Tribune on a mission to save the newspaper industry. His humorous novels feature offbeat characters and improbable plots. Off hours you’ll find him in the kitchen, underwater, or on the bike trail. Ron and his wife have been running Writers @ Work, a Chicago-area critique group since 1995.

MGOC Events: Nebula Awards Weekend 2011

Among the attendees at the Nebula Awards Weekend at the Washington Hilton last month was Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction contributor Diane Turnshek, seen here with Catharine Asaro.

The Nebula Awards are presented annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

The 2012 Nebula Awards Weekend will be held Thursday through Sunday, May 15 to May 20, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, near Reagan National Airport.

posted by heidi

Friday, June 3, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Scott A. Johnson

Scott A. Johnson
photo by Jennifer Johnson

EXCERPT from "Blurring the Line: How Reality Helps Build Better Fiction" by Scott A. Johnson in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

No matter your genre, your story needs to have a few elements of truth. But wait, you say. My story is fiction, not historical, biographical, or any of a hundred other genres that require accurate and scientific explanation. True, but in every genre, for every fantastic idea, in each realm of fantasy, there must be some mote of truth, some element that helps the reader suspend their disbelief. Physical laws must be obeyed, sure, but more than that, we have to do our best to put the reader into the story and make them feel like they are a part of it. It is therefore part of your job as a writer to blur the lines between fantasy and reality.


Scott A. Johnson is the author of seven novels and three books of true ghost stories. His latest novel, Vermin: Book One of the Stanley Cooper Chronicles, was released in August of 2010. He serves as the Paranormal Studies Editor for Dread Central, and is a member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. Scott also teaches in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. When he's not writing, he hunts ghosts, teaches Kajukenbo, and spends as much time as possible with his wife and two daughters. He currently resides near Austin, Texas. For more information, check out

MGOC Contributor News: Heidi Ruby Miller's Ambasadora

Many Genres, One Craft contributor Heidi Ruby Miller's latest release is the SF Romance novel Ambasadora.

If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Sara Mendoza and Sean Cryer are.

In their multi-partner, caste-ruled society, love and jealousy are considered emotional fallacies, nothing more than fleeting moods and sentiments biased by hormones. Relationships and conceptions in this world obsessed with celebrity, beauty, and power are based on DNA and lineages...or should be. But not everyone believes in the ruling traditions of the all-powerful Embassy. A quiet rebellion prowls the dark underground of this shiny world where techno-militants calling themselves fraggers grow in numbers and bravado. The Embassy intends to silence the fragger movement before the heresy of equality spreads throughout the system.

Sara Mendoza is part of the Embassy's plan. Captured, tortured, and falsely accused of treason, she is given a chance to win back her freedom. She only needs to charm information from one of the fragger leaders, then kill him. But by the time she figures out the Embassy's intel is flawed and that Sean Cryer is her true mark, she's already in love with him.

Sean knows why Sara is on his ship from the start, but as a lonely, anti-social doser, he doesn't value his life, only his ideology within the fragger organization. Against his better judgment, he becomes her protector, each day caring more about a future he was always afraid to hope for.

AMBASADORA has a lot to say about the human spirit, and it says it well.
--Mike Resnick, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author

With an anthropologist's eye for world building and an engaging fast-paced style, Miller hurtles her characters through a dystopian labyrinth in which hollow beauty is revered and love a virtual crime.
--Christopher Paul Carey, THE SONG OF KWASIN

Beautifully vibrant and intricately textured, Heidi Ruby Miller's AMBASADORA explores the value of true humanity, the limitless power of desire and the triumph of the individual soul. Miller's characters blaze with life and lust and depth, and her world is a dichotomy of the glamorously sensual and the brutally dangerous. Amidst edge-of-the-seat action, Miller effortlessly incorporates the conflicts of the modern woman inherent in upholding feminist sensibility. AMBASADORA is a banquet of sumptuous words, a truly exciting adventure that fans of science fiction are sure to enjoy.
--Mary SanGiovanni, author of THE HOLLOWER and THRALL

posted by heidi