A Poet Among Us

Del Cain, one of our lifetime members, has been busy lately. Both of his poetry books, Songs on a Prairie Wind and Voices of Christmas are available for purchase. Catch him at a meeting for a signed copy.delgatos

He also got news from Dos Gatos Press that one of his poems, Tableland, will be included in their 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar. This is one of the most impressive and sought after publications for poetry in the state.  We aren't surprised he's one of their chosen.

To top this off, he was recently featured on Blog Talk Radio's IndieReview Behind the Scenes segment.  Catch his podcast HERE.

Finally, we’re told one of his guitars has birthed twin mandolins. We have a suspicion he’s writing a song or two to go along with them, and we couldn't be happier.  Del has a tendency to make some beautiful music.

2014 DFW Teen Writers' Workshop

**UPDATE -- This workshop is FULL.  We are no longer accepting applicants.  Please email us at dfwwritersworkshop(at)hotmail to reserve your space for the next event.**

DFW Writers’ Workshop is very proud to announce the schedule for the 2014 Teen Writer’s Summer Workshop!  The best part of this announcement is….the workshop is completely FREE.

The scheduled events will take place at The Egg & I on Hwy. 26, from 12:30 to 2:30. Below are the dates and the list of speakers, who are all DFWWW members and traditionally published authors.  The sessions will include instruction and critique time.


With registration, teens will get a binder full of helpful advice. At the end of the workshop, an anthology will be created with their work. It will include a short story, excerpt, or poem that is polished during the six-week session. Each student will get a printed copy and may purchase as many additional copies as they’d like.  AND there’s a t-shirt, designed by our very own Sally Hamilton.


To register you must meet these requirements:

    1. Be entering 9th-12th grade.


    1. Be able to commit to at least 3 of the 6 Saturday sessions.


    1. Email your name, age, the dates you expect to attend, and the type of writing you enjoy to the following address: dfwwritersworkshop(at)hotmail. Please make the subject: TEEN WORKSHOP

The schedule is as follows:

July 12 -- The Written World taught by Del Cain (a general overview of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, songwriting and screen/playwriting)
July 19 -- The Critique Process taught by Tex Thompson (beginning with her 11th grade first draft through production of her book, One Night in Sixes)
July 26 -- Story Structure taught by Kat Cook (using the hero's journey)
August 2  -- Voice taught by Jenny Martin.
August 9 -- Character Development taught by Rosemary Clement
August 16 -- Publishing taught by A. Lee Martinez (how the publishing world works, different avenues to publication)

Writer's Digest Features...Us

As most of you know, DFW Writers’ Workshop has been trucking along since 1977.  Since then, our membership has steadily increased, along with our list of traditionally published authors.  Our conference has become a stalwart, sought-after cog in the Texas literary scene, and our outreach now includes a teen workshop and a commitment to provide annual literary-esque donations (both material and service) to those in need.

We’ve been busy, both growing and writing.

So, what’s our future look like?  Bright.  Very bright.  Don’t stare directly at it.  But, you can safely check us out in a recent Writer’s Digest’s feature.  Consider it a solar filter or a pinhole projector.  It’s a peek at what makes DFWWW so amazing.   And if you haven’t got the time to read the whole article, passing by any mirror will also do the trick.

Without further ado, here is - THE - DFW Writers’ Workshop feature in Writer’s Digest: What Makes Writing Groups Work.

A huge thanks to all of our extraordinary members, past and present, for making us a thing.

Medicine for a Post-Conference Hangover

It’s conference season, the time of year writers force themselves out of their hidey-holes to network, attend classes on the craft and business of writing, and to pitch their brilliant Great American Novel to eager agents. At these conferences you are surrounded by People Who Get It. By people who don’t think it’s weird to spend hours talking about the difference between New Adult and Young Adult, ponder the strange phenomena of the counter-correlation between editorial oversight and author success, and debate what exactly is the perfect query letter.

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a writing conference attendee who hasn’t recaptured the motivation and inspiration that made him or her turn on the computer and type the first sentence of a story. But, how do you channel the avalanche of information you’ve received? How in the world do you choose what to do first? Should you do it all? Do you spiral into self-doubt and second-guesses?

Oh my God. My manuscript stinks. I should probably just chuck it all and start over.

Hold on there. Take a deep breath and keep reading.

Make a copy of your WIP

You want to make changes, lots of changes! Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t. But, the very first thing you should do is make a duplicate copy of your manuscript as the pre-conference version. Why? I know you learned so much your manuscript will be loads better if you put every single suggestion you learned into action. Right now! But, there’s the chance, probably very slim, that you will start this rewrite and suddenly realize this new version isn’t working, that what you had before wasn’t so bad, that you’ve made too many changes and have lost the thread of your original story. Then where are you? Fifty thousand words into an ill-conceived rewrite without the original version to go back to. Trust me when I say, this is not a place you want to be.

Not all good advice is the right advice.

Every week at workshop, I receive critiques on my work. The majority of the critiques are good, but that doesn’t mean they are right for the story, the genre or my writing style. I process the critiques, evaluate them, then choose what I will use. The same considered approach should be used for conference advice. I know you want to put what you learned to practice, yesterday. Resist the temptation. Take a few days to let what you’ve learned sink in. Type, or retype, your notes. Highlight the “lightbulb moments,” those comments the presenters made that sparked an idea, or illuminated a weakness in your writing you want to address. Your MS, and the weakness in your writing, isn’t going anywhere. You have plenty of time to address the problems in your MS.

Finish what you started. Then polish it. Then start something else.

If you are 80,000 words into a planned 90,000 word MS, resist the urge to chunk it all and start over (but if you do, make a separate copy!). You are already 80,000 words into a crappy first draft. Why in the world would you chunk it to start a second crappy first draft? Finish the MS how you started and implement the suggestions you learned in the rewrite. You will probably find what you wrote after the conference needs less reworking than what came before. But, at least you aren’t starting from zero. Once you’ve rewritten and polished the MS, send it to the agent who was so excited for your pitch, or start querying the agents and editors whom you met. But, most importantly, start working on something new. Put the polished MS in a drawer and forget about it. True growth as a writer doesn’t come from rewriting the same MS over and over. It comes from creating, editing, and polishing; creating, editing, and polishing. Over and over and over and over…

“What’s going to get you to your publication goal? Getting done sooner or getting done better?” Donald Maass, DFW Writers' Conference, May 2014

A very hard lesson I’ve learned in the past year is the publishing industry is slow. Ridiculously, laughably slow. As much as you want to think the agent you pitched to is eagerly waiting for your MS, the reality is she is swamped with queries and reading queries isn’t even the biggest part of her job. Respect the agent enough to send the very best version of your MS. It’s better to send a polished MS to an agent in August, than one riddled with errors in June. The former will get you an agent, the latter will make you an expert on query letters.

Though if you play your cards right, you can teach a class on query letters next year.

-- Melissa Lenhardt, DFWWW member since 2012

photo credit: Unhindered by Talent 

So You're Making a Talk

Your book is finally in print. The next step: your platform. Social media, blogs, book signings, public talks.

Whoa. Public talks? Stand up before a crowd and speak? No way.

MicrophoneOK. Take a deep breath. You wrote the book, sweated over every page. No, over every word. And it came together. Seeing that cover art for the first time, you breathed that deep sigh of relief. That smug sigh of self-satisfaction. If you can put down coherent thoughts on paper, you can make a talk. But first, do your homework.

Know your crowd. Seniors, teens, school kids, professionals. Each will have different interests, different ideas on how a speaker should dress or talk. But here’s the good news: if they’re not interested in your book’s genre, they probably won’t come to hear you speak. So come up with something to say that reflects what you’ve written and they’ll love it.

Write down an outline. Have a catchy beginning, just like your book. You need a middle and an end, too. Keep them wanting more.

Talk about yourself, but don’t overdo it. How you started writing, what qualifies you to write your book, especially if it’s nonfiction. Oh, you write about zombies and haven’t offed any lately? Maybe why zombies interest you and why the reader should care, too. Also, it’s not a good idea to read directly from the book. Paraphrase and speak from the heart.

Practice your speech ahead of time. Do it in front of a mirror, or even better, a friend or family member who’ll give honest feedback. If all you hear are good comments, find someone else. This is not unlike a writing critique group.

Dress appropriately. Sure, everyone at the local library may show up wearing jeans and tees, but business casual is never too dressy when addressing a crowd. Speaking before business leaders? Coat and tie for men or appropriate business attire for women. Not sure? Always dress better than your expected audience rather than more casually.

And now, the day has arrived, the speech is at hand. Those butterflies are fluttering, your heart is pounding. The emcee announces your name and you head for the podium. When you get there, stop.

Arrange your notes, take a deep breath, and make eye contact with the audience. Now smile, because they’ll hear it in your voice. Only then do you speak, and when you do, talk to the people in the back row. If they can hear, so can everyone else.

Make a mistake? No prob. Laugh at yourself. Public speaking is an acquired skill and everyone in the audience knows it. They’ll understand.

Bring some books. It’s a great place to sell them.

And here’s the most important thing: have fun and make it show. Everyone else will, too.

-- George Goldthwaite, DFWWW Member since 2009, The Voice of the DFWCon Gong Show since 2011

photo credit: WilliamMarlow via photopin cc

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