IYWM logoLast night, I got home from one of my favorite trips every year. In Your Write Mind is a writer’s workshop/conference hosted by Seton Hill University, as an offshoot of their Writing Popular Fiction graduate program. (Basically, the graduates wanted an excuse to come back every year, so we created one.) The workshop is open to all writers, and features lectures and panels on a variety of writing-related topics, a talk by a bestselling author, and pitch sessions with agents and editors looking specifically for genre fiction. Hopefully my recap will show why you should come join the fun next year! 


I worked from home Thursday morning and then headed to campus in the afternoon. There’s no better feeling than driving up the main hill, trees lining each side, and feeling like I’ve come home. After I checked in at registration and dropped off my raffle basket donation, I dropped my stuff in my dorm room and kidnapped some friends for dinner. We had a lovely time catching up at Red Robin, then headed back to campus and relaxed the rest of the evening. This is basically my family reunion weekend, so there’s lots and lots of talking (and laughing).


I slept in on Friday morning, then headed to some great lectures in the afternoon. The first, presented by Christina Stitt, was on using food in your writing (as everything from character development to setting to plot/conflict). She provided delicious treats based on food from books. Then, I attended a fantastic talk on better representation of relationships in fiction, hosted by C.A. Jacobs. Not all passion has to end with the characters in bed with each other!

I headed into town for a meetup with my everyone associated with my publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press who was at the event. If In Your Write Mind is a family reunion where I get to see all the sprawling cousins twice removed, spending time with my publishing family is like being with my brothers and sisters.

book signing IYWM 2017
Photo credit: Rhonda Mason

The highlight of the day was the annual mass book signing! Even though Steel Blood doesn’t officially come out until July 19, we had the “soft launch” this past weekend, and a few lucky people were able to snag pre-relase copies.

(Not going to lie: It’s very, very cool to see my writing family’s pleased faces when I continue to add a book to my table every year.)


This was my mostly social day. After sleeping in again (seriously, I was staying up close to 2 or 3 AM every night), I realized that lunchtime would be my only opportunity for Steak ‘n Shake, which is a requirement whenever I’m in western Pennsylvania or Ohio. I snagged some friends and hauled them along with me for delicious milkshake and steakburger goodness, then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the gorgeous weather and bouncing from conversation to conversation.

I hosted my first responsibility in the early evening, which was a panel on freelance editing with developmental editor Anna La Voie. We had a great small-group discussion about the different types of editing, how and when best to implement them, and answering great questions from authors. Anna and I shared dinner with two of the authors to continue talking, then it was time to head back to campus and change for the costume ball!

Waldo IYWM 2017
Where’s Waldo?

This year’s genre theme featured mysteries and thrillers: International Person of Mystery. When I first learned of the theme last year, I knew there was only one person I could be, in homage of one of my favorite books as a kid. Besides, everyone else was totally going to dress up as James Bond, right? People had a great reaction of my costume, and I carried around candy to hand out to everyone who thought they were so clever by exclaiming “I found you!”


I tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour on Saturday night. I really did. (Spoiler alert: I failed.) But was still ready to go early (okay, mid-morning) on Sunday for my other panel. As a former military brat and current military spouse, I see a lot of military-related errors in all genres of fiction. If it irritates me, I know it has to drive actual military servicemembers bonkers. Since there are plenty involved in the In Your Write Mind program, I moderated a panel on military life with a variety of experience military personnel. Despite the time slot, the panel was well-attended and the audience asked fantastic questions. This is definitely a panel I’ll be suggesting again next year, and I really appreciate the people (Alex Savage, K.P. Kulski, and Bill Huff) who volunteered their time and expertise.

After the luncheon welcoming the current graduating crop of Writing Popular Fiction graduate students into the crazy fold, I said my goodbyes and headed home. I’m already counting down the days until I can do it all again next year.

The costume ball theme for 2018 is “Storybookland.” I’m taking costume suggestions!

The final haul:

final haul IYWM 2017

  • Memories of Magic (Fay of Skye #3) by Cara McKinnon, which I had the honor of beta reading this past spring
  • A fantastic In Your Write Mind t-shirt, designed by Judi Fleming, one of the workshop organizers
  • SHU Christmas ornament, for filling out the post-workshop survey
  • SHU workout shirt and hat from the school store (I check out the clearance rack every year)

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