Middleburg, VA is a historic town located a short distance from Washington, DC. (Are any towns in Virginia NOT historic?) It has been there over 220 years—and no, I was not there for its founding. Among its 600 or so residents are quite a few writers, which made Middleburg the ideal setting for last weekend’s Hunt Country Writers’ Retreat.
I’ve worked with two of Middleburg’s writers, Genie Ford (above, left) and Jan Neuharth, on and off for a couple of years. They are both awesome people. Genie is just finishing up her first novel, while Jan has published three books in the acclaimed Hunt Country Suspense Series. A year ago they hatched their plan for the retreat and asked if I would be the primary presenter. Hey, a chance to travel to a part of the country where I’d never been and spend the better part of a weekend flapping my gums about writing to a bunch of enthusiastic writers? Oh yeah, count me in!
Jan and her husband, Joseph Keusch, put me up in the basement of their humble abode, pictured below. Basement? You could spend a week in this basement and not want to go outside. Joseph, who knows everyone in the state of Virginia by their first name and is BFF to all of them, showed me around the horse farm and introduced me to some of its residents. (The one that sneezed on us probably took issue with a guy from California.) Joseph is an internationally acclaimed horse trainer and all-around good guy.
While the majority of attendees were from the surrounding area, some came from out of town—one as far as Arizona. I did a nine-to-fiver on Saturday and filled their heads with info about outlining a novel, how to “hook” readers from the start, how to handle a POV, and a whole lot more. They also heard a literary agent from a top New York agency speak during lunch. The attendees’ eyes might have been a bit glazed by five o’clock, but they seemed to soak everything up like sponges. The day ended with Genie moderating a panel that included Jan and three other published authors, one of them Ellen Crosby, who writes the popular Wine Country Mystery Series, published by Simon & Schuster. All in all, a great time for writers—and for me—in Middleburg, VA.
SWORDS AND SPECTERS: my revised, rewritten version of The Master of Boranga, first published in—well, a long time ago, is close to going live. Another week or so should do it for the first book in this Sword & Planet series. This cover is the old Zebra one. My talented graphic artist, Karen Phillips, is hard at work on the new cover. I can’t wait to see the prototypes.
Some good news for anyone that has Amazon Prime: you can read any of my Atoris Press titles—horror novels The Modoc Well and Demon Shadows, and Sword & Sorcery novel The Sons of Ornon—for free. That’s free, as in gratis, nothing, zero, bupkes, nada, nil. Enjoy. And I always care about what readers think, so let me know if you liked them.