‘Girl Gone Wild’ at PA Writers Conference


This past Friday I had a chance to hang out with my talented friends, Bethanne Patrick and Laura Ellen Scott, at the PA Writers Conference at Wilkes University. Bethanne is a contributing editor at LitHub, the founder of #FridayReads (go follow her on Twitter @TheBookMaven), and the author of three books, including The Books That Changed My Life. Laura Ellen teaches creative writing at George Mason University and her latest novel is The Mean Bone in Her Body, Book 1 of the New Royal Mysteries.

So, yes–I was surrounded by talent and great company for our panel!

During our talk, we examined trends in the thriller genre, particularly focusing on the feminization of thrillers (i.e., women are dominating the list of popular thriller authors and women are dominating the audience of thriller readers).¬†We covered a great deal, including the value of emotional violence as contrasted to physical violence, how to apply the Bechdel Test to your novel, and Emily St. John Mandel (of Station 11 fame–go read it!) and her analysis of the ‘Girl’ trend in titling thrillers.


We had a great audience and were even able to spend some time on questions specific to our attendees and their writing. The session could have lasted much longer, except the next panel needed to get into the room and set-up!

Panel Mise en Place

If you weren’t able to attend the session

(or if we didn’t have time to cover your question)

please get in touch!

I’ve also included copies of our handout below, for your reference. Two other excellent think-pieces to check out were featured in The Atlantic here (Women Are Writing the Best Crime Novels) and here (Why Men Pretend to Be Women to Sell Thrillers).

See you between the lines!

PA Writers Conference Handout

PA Writers Conference Handout Pg2

BookFest 2017 with Schlow Library and Central PA Arts Fest (& Bonus Recipe)


I recently had the fantastic opportunity to participate in Schlow Library’s annual BookFest, which occurs in partnership with the Central PA Arts Fest. This was my first year participating as an author, and after working my table from 10am – 4pm, the one word that crossed my mind was:


Those 6 hours (in heels, no less!) flew by. Schlow Library kindly set up a tent for all of us 18 authors to run our tables while being protected from the sun, and the tent was packed with readers and writers the entire time! My table was at the back of the tent, which meant that I had an excellent spot to chat with attendees as they made their rounds. I met with writers and readers of all ages–including a little 7-year-old girl who, when asked if she was a writer, responded with a resounding, “YES!”, a middle-school-aged boy who had already written a novel, and a new mom starting a new university job and hoping to get some writing time in as well.


On my table I provided handouts with writing prompts for all ages, some of them written by me and some written by my children (thanks kiddos), offering a free writing critique for a 500-word story based on one of the prompts, or another 500-word piece an author would like to share and receive some feedback on. I’m looking forward to reading the work of other writers in my community–so get your stories in!

Hanging out with Romance writer, Lindsay Detwiler–we are just too cute, right?!?

The joy of talking with people who love to read, who love to write, and who simply love the power of words for that length of time was invigorating (although I did sleep like a baby that night). I feel so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet other local and regional authors, to share my book with potential readers, and to hopefully inspire other writers to keep working on those manuscripts. So many of the writers I met while they visited the tent immediately dismissed their own work as of little value, and I tried to emphasize in our conversations that every writer feels that way. Take heart, keep writing and growing, and have faith that hard work yields quality. It’s an old adage, but a true one: Every published author was once a writer with a manuscript, revising, revising, and revising away.

Keep Calm, Dear Friends, and Write On!

Special thanks to Jaru Copy Services for making my table posters on the fly–they looked fabulous and I received many compliments on them!

Can you spot the photo of me in my awkward adolescence, at a–you guessed it–Power of the Pen competition?

And another special thanks to Gesine Bullock-Prado for once again proving herself the doyenne of all things buttery, pastry, and delicious. Her recipe for Brown Butter Brown Sugar cookies were a huge hit at my table, as evidenced by the empty crumb-filled plate by the end of the day. You can get the recipe at her blog. And if you are so inclined as to want to take a baking class with her personally, read more about my experience at her Sugar Glider Kitchen here (Spoiler: It was AMAZ-ING!).