Pittsburgh East Writer's 2009 Programs


Monroeville Public Library’s downstairs program room, unless otherwise noted.
Second Saturday morning of each month: 10:00 AM to 12:45 PM. RSVP recommended.
Info on current publishing and open critique session. On selected months in 2009 (to be announced) a mini workshop or author presentation free and opened to patrons of the Monroeville Public Library will be conducted in the first hour followed by the Pittsburgh East Writer’s critique session.
January 10, 2009 - Writing a query letter
February 14, 2009 - Guest literary agent, Dr. Uwe Stender (www.TriadaUS.com) - Q&A
March 14, 2009 - Guest Speaker on library research: Mark Hudson, MA, MLIS, Head of Adult Services & Reference Librarian at the Monroeville Public Library
April 11, 2009 - Guest author Barbara Miller (www.FallsBend.net) on e-books.
May 9, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)
June 13, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)
July 11, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)
August 8, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)
September 12, 2009 - Mini Workshop: Ellen discussed how her December 2007 graduate thesis ended up as a printed book.
October 6, 2009 - Ellen has been invited to give a lecture about "Secrets in the Fog: the Invisibility Project" on October 6th at 7:00 PM in the Art Gallery at the Monroeville Public Library. The program is free and open to the public.
October 10, 2009 - "Getting published in the Adult fiction Market."
November 14, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)
December 12, 2009 - (No workshop scheduled)



On Saturday, October 10, 2009, the Pittsburgh East Writer's will conduct a two-hour workshop called "Getting Published in the Adult Fiction Market" beginning at 10:00 AM at the Monroeville Public Library.

The workshop will present a current review about today's traditional publishers and literary agents, as well as those ugly "rejection" letters first time authors continue to receive and how to handle them. A significant portion of this workshop will discuss the traditional small publishers and the ePublishers, how to submit your work to them, and signing a publisher's contracts. Interviews with about twenty successful eAuthors and authors contracted with legitimate small traditional publishers for their print books will be included as handouts for the attendees.

The October 10th workshop is free and open to the public, but advance registration is necessary via e-mail to DuckIslandMaine@aol.com with "October 10th Workshop Registration" in the Subject and your name and telephone in the message. SORRY, REGISTRATION CLOSED ON OCT. 8.


The Pittsburgh East Writers is pleased to announce that its guest speaker for the Saturday, April 11th workshop will be Mystery and Romance author Barbara Miller. With over a million books in print world-wide, she will discuss why authors should consider the e-publishers in today's declining market where traditional publishers are cutting back staff and where opportunities for most new writers are becoming non-existent, and why she left Harlequin, a traditional publisher for Cerridwen, an established e-Publisher which actually pays higher royalties, as well as provide informative hand-outs about e-publishing.

In 1993, Harlequin Books, followed by Pocket/Sonnet Books started publishing Barbara's romance novels, which were printed in nine languages throughout Europe and South America plus English in the United States. She was nominated for several Rita Awards as well as receiving numerous other writing awards from Romance Writer's of America.

Barbara Miller's ten mystery novels published in the Falls Bend Mystery Series by Weavers Old Stand Press, were set in a rural southwestern Pennsylvania area similar to the two-hundred year old creepy farm where she now resides. She also published four cute Young Adult novels. In 2007, she began writing for Cerridwen Publishing which publishes both e-Books and paper-backs. In January 2009, Cerridwen released Eye Walker, Barbara's first paranormal romance. She will also discuss her next two books under contract for 2009.

After completing her degree in Communications & Writing and later graduate work in computer science, she worked as a technical writer and systems analyst for the next twenty years, then completed her Masters in Library Science at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to being a terrific writer and great Reference Librarian, Barbara is a Writing Professor with Seton Hill University's Master's in Writing Program since the graduate program started in 1999. She has a very interesting web site www.FallsBend.net.

Barbara Miller's lecture should enlighten you about the pro's and con's of writing, inspire and encourage you to try to get published, and show you how to get published with an e-publisher in 2009. This two-hour workshop begins promptly at ten at the Monroeville Public Library's large downstairs Program Room. These workshops are free and open to the public as well as to members of other writing groups and aspiring novelists. For more information about this and other workshops, go to www.EllenSpain.com and click on Pittsburgh East Writers

Registration is by e-mail. RSVP to DuckIslandMaine@aol.com with your name and "April 11th Register" in the Subject line.

Review of the April 11th workshop

This was a tremendous workshop filled with tons of information about ePublishers. Many thanks to Guest Lecturer author/educator Barbara Miller for her brilliant presentation on Electronic Publishing. The following is a summary.


The e-submission process appeals to the green in all of us. . No paper, no postage, no waste. Faster response time and more publishing slots level the playing field for new and experienced authors alike. Time to publication after acceptance is shorter.

E-publishers go after niche markets that are supported by obsessed readers, those willing to spend money even in our sad economy. They are also open to offbeat premises. In short, since they are risking little, they can afford to take chances that the print publishers cannot. Also, many e-publishers give the authors more say in their book cover art.

One downside to electronic submission is that big books are hard to place. E-readers like short works: stories and novellas or novels up to 60,000 words. You have to be very prolific and a hot seller to attract an agent in e-publishing, but it is possible. On the other hand, you don't need an agent to submit to most e-publishers.


The disadvantage is that e-publishers pay little or no advance, but this is also one of the main advantages. Many print authors get dumped for not earning back their advance. E-publishers can give an author more chances since their risk is small.

Most contracts are for shorter terms than for print publishers. The author gets a fair share of royalties that would normally go to printers, truck drivers and warehouses.

For those who want to straddle the fence, there is often a print on demand (POD) option. This is still green since only the books ordered are printed, so no copies are stripped and dumped. It is a model that can work.


Authors have to take more responsibility for editing, but there is more guidance for copyediting. The publishers actually give you their style sheets and the rules they follow. And you can fix typos even after the book is released in e-publishing, since copies are printed only as they are ordered.


Authors today must have a website. The more you put yourself out there on the Internet, the better sales will be. Blogs, interviews, reviews, and so on are all essential parts of online marketing. All this electronic flogging takes some time away from writing (but not as much as sitting in a bookstore telling customers where the bathroom is).

Brace yourself for some discrimination, as with anything new. Some authors, some writer's organizations, and some conferences are against e-books even though e-publishers are responsible for much of the current diversity in the market.

E-books don't crumble like paper ones, and you can store thousands in the same space you can store one print book. They appeal to online shoppers because of the convenience and privacy. Since e-books are green, so is advertising them. It's easy to post free samples and story downloads to snare readers who will fall in love with your style.


Sales numbers may be low for new authors, but that is not held against you. Your books are available a long time rather than just a month. Royalties are paid more often and in a timelier manner than by big publishers. You can publish both e-books and print books, thus extending your reach.

PROGRAM for Saturday, March 14th

This happens to all of you. You got a great "idea" for the next best-seller whether it be a novel, a short story or a magazine article. You know by now that the reader expects your work to be believable. Even fiction must be convincing to be accepted. You must meet your deadline. You know your characters, the settings, and all those hundreds of incidental facts in each chapter must be correct because there will be some reader who verifies your work.

Hopefully you know by now that you can't conduct your research from a Wikipedia cite. So you Goggle your first piece of data and it comes back with over 100,000 hits. At this rate, you estimate it will take you the next two months researching full-time before you can start writing that great manuscript. You can either give up now and go back to your day job, ask your editor for an extension (Yeah), or see "Number Three" below.

Number Three is the correct choice. You can make your future research efforts much easier by attending Pittsburgh East Writer's March 14th two-hour workshop, "Research for Writers" with featured guest lecturer, Mark Hudson, M. A., M. LS. who will share his expertise in research methodology and techniques, as well as research short-cuts.

Mark received his B. A. and M. A in History from the University of Pittsburgh. But when he realized the library was his career choice, he went back to Pitt and completed his Masters in Library Science in 1999. Mark worked at Pitt as an academic librarian and a Library Instruction Coordinator, then moved into public library administration and became the Head of Adult Services for the Monroeville Public Library. You probably saw Mark helping patrons at the computer with their research.

Now you have the opportunity to learn all about research in the two hour workshop. Of course, workshops offered by the Pittsburgh East Writer's are free and open to the public. A quick RSVP thru www.EllenSpain.com is all that is necessary. See you at ten on Saturday, March 14th in the downstairs Program Room at the Monroeville Public Library for this great workshop "Research for Writers" with Mark Hudson.

February 14th Program

The Pittsburgh East Writer's announces that its Saturday morning, February 14th speaker will be Literary Agent Dr. Uwe Stender, from TriadaUS Literary Agency. He is a full member of AAR (Association of Author's Representatives. If you wanted to know why you may need a literary agent to get published as well as finding out about the 2009 publishing industry, bring your questions and business cards as Dr. Stender plans to answer your questions for the next hour. TriadaUS is a full service literary agency that has established strong relationships with all the major publishing houses.

The Pittsburgh East Writers workshop begins at ten at the Monroeville Public Library's large downstairs Program Room. These workshops are free and open to the public as well as to members of other writing groups and aspiring novelists. For more information go to www.EllenSpain.com and click on Pittsburgh East Writers for information about the group, its workshops, and directions to the library.

Review of February 14th Program

The February 14th program featuring Literary Agent, Dr. Uwe Stender, from TriadaUS Literary Agency was a big success and a very large audience. Dr. Stender's presentation was dynamic and very informative giving us writers the insight to the 2009 publishing markets and his discussions with the editors as well as pointers on good query letters, hooks, and pitches. And the attendees really appreciated Dr. Stender taking the time at the end of the two and a half hour workshop to personally listen to each interested writer quickly pitch their book. A Big THANK YOU to Dr. Stender.

Annette Dashofy, PennWriters' Area 3 Coordinator posted her review of this program. Well worth reading. http://annettedashofy.blogspot.com/

On March 1st, Carolyn Holland (Beanery Writers) posted a comprehensive review on her blog at http://beanerywriters.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/565/

The photographs I took are posted at www.EllenSpain.com in "Other Photos" under "Professional Conferences."

January 10th program

The January 10th workshop will be a one-hour workshop on "How to Query an Agent or Editor" presented by author/educator, Dr. Ellen Spain. If you have a successful query letter, bring it along to share with the group as this will become an interactive workshop..

Review of the January 10th Program

The query letter is a one page professional introduction to your book. Ellen reviewed the substance of the query letter, its format and heading directed to a specific named literary agent or editor, what goes in each paragraph (see below), and attachments: synopsis & first three chapters. Ellen provided copies of good and terrible query letters to the workshop participants.

The first paragraph is the “hook’, which is a part of the pitch you need to learn and includes the title of your book. If you were invited to send the agent or editor this query letter, then start with that fact, noting the place, date, and circumstances for the invitation. Then go to the hook.

The second paragraph tells your genre, word count, time and place of the story, and the names of your main characters and their internal and external conflicts. It tells the individual what is different about your book in relationship to the hundreds of other books already published in your genre with similar themes.

The third paragraph lists your qualifications as an author showing your expertise to write this book.

Keep the last paragraph brief. The specific person knows that the only reason you are contacting them is to convince them to look future at your product. It usually states a “Thank You” for considering your work and notes the synopsis and first three chapters are included. Don't forget to sign the letter.

DO NOT ask for their analysis. DO NOT include other people’s statements about the manuscript, off-subject info or how long it took you to write it. DO NOT mention rights, copyright, or payment. DO NOT QUERY if your manuscript is not completed and fully proofread, edited and the kind of book you like (want) to read. DO BE PATIENT.

A BIG THANK YOU to those dedicated writers attending this workshop knowing that the biggest snow fall of the season was only hours away.