All posts in "Travel & Appearances"

Panel Schedule for Superstars Writing Seminar

Here’s the schedule of panels for the next Superstars Writing Seminar, which will be held in Salt Lake City, January 13–15.  As you can see from the list of topics, this three-day seminar is packed with great stuff, no-nonsense and practical material taught by six bestselling authors.   We’re not aware of anything comparable for the serious aspiring, or even professional, writer.

Sessions begin in three weeks.  We look forward to seeing you there.  Sign up now at Superstars Writing Seminar.


8:30 AM    Intro, seminar overview, introduce speakers (Kevin)

9:00        Econ 201 for Writers: Economics of Commercial Publishing (Eric)

10:00    Inside Editors: How editors look at manuscripts (Dave, Kevin, Eric)

Noon    Lunch

1:30 PM    Myths of Publishing     (Rebecca)

2:30        Agents: the “A” word (Brandon, Eric, Dave)

3:30        “Dirty Secrets”: Being a professional author (Kevin, Rebecca)

4:30        From Slushpile to #1 Bestseller in 4 Years (Brandon)

5:00        The Popcorn Theory of Success (Kevin)

Evening:  Welcome mixer/reception


8:30 AM    Copyright basics (Dave, Eric)

9:00        Self-Publishing & Ebooks: Realities and Pitfalls (Eric, Rebecca)

10:00    Pitching the Big Proposal (Brandon, Kevin, Dave)

11:00    New Media: Using It to Get an Edge (Brandon, Rebecca)

noon    Lunch

10:00    Networking for Writers (Rebecca, Dave)

2:30        Do It Yourself: Self-Promotion for Authors (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

3:30        Promoting Yourself and Your Work (All)

4:30        Open session:  Q&A

Authors available for signing

VIP Banquet: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse


8:30 AM    Ergonomics: When Writing Gets to Be a Pain (Rebecca)

9:00        Dissecting a Contract (Eric)

10:00    Movies, TV, and Authors (Dave, Kevin, Brandon)

11:00    Two Heads Are Better Than One: Collaborations (Eric, Kevin, Rebecca, Brandon)

noon    Lunch

1:30        Intellectual Property: How to Exploit Yours (Dave)

2:30        Eleven Tips to Increase Your Writing Productivity (Kevin)

3:30        Balancing Acts: Writing World and Real World (All)

4:30        Open session:  Q&A

For further information, see Superstars Writing Seminars

Writing Productivity Tip #10—GET INSPIRED!

A series of eleven tips to help you get more time for writing, and to produce more writing when you do have time.

Every creative writing teacher repeats the classic axiom, “Write about what you know.”  Therefore, it stands to reason that the more you know, the more things you’ll be able to write about.

Every experience, class, interesting acquaintance, or place you visit goes into your pantry of “ingredients” for new material. Part of your job as a writer is to collect these ingredients so that you can use them—by learning new subjects, doing new things, meeting new people, seeing new places.  You’ll be surprised at how many doors will open for a writer doing research.

Strictly to broaden my knowledge-base of experiences over the years, I’ve taken a hot-air balloon ride, gone white-water rafting and mountain climbing, traveled to various cities and countries, been a guest backstage at rock concerts, attended a world-class symphony, and taken extensive tours of high-tech scientific research installations, visited a giant aircraft carrier, been on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange, taken cruises, gone zip-lining, and toured behind the scenes at FBI Headquarters.

Feeling less adventurous?  Then do other things to get inspired. Read extensively, research esoteric topics, take a class about a subject you know nothing about.  Watch documentaries at random.  Go to a museum—especially an oddball one.  Sign up for a ballroom dancing group, attend the meeting of a model-rocketry club, go outside at night and learn the constellations.

In your daily life, open your eyes and observe what is around you. Every experience is filled with details to absorb and use at some later time. Watch people. See what they do, observe how they act, listen to how they talk, try to understand who they are and make up biographies for them.

In short, exercise your creative muscles. Go outside your comfort zone.  Stock up your mental pantry with ingredients so that you’ll have a lot to cook with.  You never know what might spark a story idea or an interesting character, and being inspired will add to the energy you can put into your writing.

Terra Incognita #3, due out in June 2011

This blog series is part of a lecture I’ll be presenting at the Superstars Writing Seminar in January 13–15 in Salt Lake City, a three-day intensive workshop focused on business and careers in writing.  Other instructors include Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Farland, Rebecca Moesta, and Eric Flint.  We hope to see you there.


A series of eleven tips to help you get more time for writing, and to produce more writing when you do have time.

So, you’ve developed a writing routine, set up an office or at least a place where you use your laptop.  It’s the way you’re accustomed to writing.  But habit doesn’t necessarily make your setup the best.  Have you ever stepped back with an objective eye to consider whether it works for you?

Is your “office” (whether it’s a spare bedroom, a corner of the kitchen table, or an old desk in the hall) conducive to productivity?  Don’t just accept your environment as it is.

  Consider other possible rooms, desks, tables in the house.  Try to create a “haven” for yourself, a place you can call a writing office, so that when you’re working there, you—and everyone else—regard it as your real workplace.

Look at where you have your computer or laptop set up.  Is it on a TV tray in the middle of the living room with chaos and clutter all around?  Probably not the best spot.  A corner of the kitchen table with any old chair pulled up?  A place where it’s easy for friends and family to chat with you?  Is the television on and distracting you?

Now, look at your writing surface and your chair.  See that they’re adjusted at the proper height: your bent arms should form a loose “L” to reach the keyboard.  Most regular chairs are much too low for a typical table surface.  If you hunch over or have to reach up for the keyboard or mouse, you could end up with sore arms, wrists, shoulders, and that can lead to serious repetitive-stress injuries such as pinched nerves, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, or cubital tunnel syndrome, to name a few.  (I know from experience—my wife has had four arm surgeries to correct damage caused by an improper office setup from when she worked a full-time office job.)  Sit on a pillow if you have to, or install a keyboard shelf.

Next, consider your personal habits and schedules.  These will be different for each writer.  Some people write best at home in familiar surroundings, while others find the home environment filled with distractions and numerous little household tasks.  Some find themselves stimulated to write in a coffee shop with constant comings and goings and background chatter, while others prefer to get away from distractions by renting a separate room to be used specifically as an outside office.  I happen to be most productive when writing or editing with loud music playing; my wife works best in total silence (which means we have our offices on opposite ends of the house).

(A side note: For the past year I’ve used a set of noise-cancelling headphones while I travel.  They are remarkably effective at shutting out the background hubbub of airports, train stations, and coffee shops—which lets me concentrate completely, even amidst the chaos.)

What time of day is your peak imagination and energy?  I’m a morning person, and I get the most work done first thing in the day with fresh coffee running through my bloodstream.  Rebecca is a lot slower to get moving and doesn’t do much creative work until later in the day, but then she stays up well beyond the time when my sleepy brain is shutting down.

  If you’re a night person, try to arrange your writing time for late at night; if you’re a morning person, get up a little earlier to do your creative work.

Just because you’re used to writing in a certain place at a certain time, doesn’t mean that’s the only way you can be productive.  As an experiment, try writing under different circumstances, at various times, and in a variety of places, then determine the best environment for you.  Which collection of variables allows you to produce the most pages?  You may be surprised.  Then, once you’ve figured out how and where you can be most productive, arrange your schedule and your office environment to accommodate that.

New 2011 Calendar featuring stories and photos by KJA and T. Duren Jones. Limited quantity available. Order from

This blog series is part of a lecture I’ll be presenting at the Superstars Writing Seminar in January 13–15 in Salt Lake City, a three-day intensive workshop focused on business and careers in writing.  Other instructors include Brandon Sanderson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Farland, Rebecca Moesta, and Eric Flint.  We hope to see you there.

Counting the Days: New 2011 KJA Desert Calendar

Published December 2, 2010 in Advice , Blogging , Travel & Appearances , Writing - 0 Comments

Along with my brother-in-law Tim, I have hiked hundreds of trail miles and climbed many mountains.  It’s where I get inspired for many of my story ideas and exotic settings.

Two years ago, as a gift for special friends and family members, we produced a calendar of photos and stories about our experiences in the mountains.  For 2011, we’ve done another one, this time focusing on our adventures in the rugged and beautiful deserts of the American Southwest—Death Valley, Canyonlands, Arches, Great Sand Dunes, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, and other locations.

We decided to make a few extra copies of the calendar available to fans.  Each month features an original inspirational anecdote of our experiences in the arid lands, written either by Kevin or Tim.  All of the photographs are our own.

Quantities are limited, and will ship out within a week.  The calendar is full-sized, with high-quality printing on heavy paper.  If you’re interested in seeing some of the spectacular settings that have sparked scenes in my novels, I hope you’ll consider ordering your own copy of Life Lessons from the Desert.  Order from

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