Monday, May 26, 2014

Writers Coffeehouse for April

By Dawn Byrne

On April 27th Keith Strunk led The Liars Club's Writers Coffeehouse that meets at the Barnes & Noble in Willow Grove PA on the last Sunday of the month. Please note that the May meeting is canceled because of Memorial Day.

Keith is a teacher, actor, author and co-founder of River Union Stage. He wrote the book, Prallsville Mills and Stockton and is one of four authors of The Delaware River Byways that's due out in July. Both are published by Arcadia Publishing. Among other credits is his screenplay Time Lock (2005).

Keith talked about collaborating on fiction books, and suggested all involved in the project should agree on an editor, or a person who will have the final say with the project. A signed agreement can be helpful too. Kerry Gans added her experience collaborating with two other writers on a work yet to be completed. Her poem "The Towers Stood" is included in the non-profit first anthology of World Healing World Peace.

Anyone may ask a question to the facilitator or the group throughout the meeting. Keith addressed a question to the group. He needed tips on how to get back into a long project after being away from it for months. Suggestions were: conditioned/response where the writer repeats daily going to a specific area to write, or uses something like smell to trigger the brain that it's time to work on the writing; re-read the entire manuscript; look over notes on the project; make or review character sketches and the outline; get back into the head of the main character.

The discussion turned to branding. I have to admit I helped with this turn, seeking information on taglines. Keith mentioned that a writer's face is their best logo. An author may want a specific tagline for each book, which can be limiting. A tagline for the author is another option. I found myself in good company with Kerry Gans who also is trying to come up with a tagline that encompasses all the types of writing she does.

As an actor Keith was clearly comfortable explaining how dress can brand a person. It depends on what you write. Carol Kasser shared that as a children's author, she dresses in fun hats and child friendly clothing. Barbara Custer uses a balloon as part of her brand.

This brought up the subject: How to dress for a pitch. When pitching to an agent or editor, says Keith, dress neat but not necessarily formal. If you're nervous, uncomfortable clothing will add to your issues. This topic led to pitching in general.

Keith gave out information on the Philadelphia Writers' Conference coming in June. He mentioned that even though a writer should have a completed manuscript before pitching to an agent, at the conference that's not a deal breaker. As long as the writer has finished most of their book, it doesn't look bad in this situation to have an incomplete package.

I thank our founder and SJWG librarian, Janice Wilson, once again for driving me to the meeting. As always, carpool conversations are a bonus to the information and inspiration I receive during the meeting. Kindren spirits abound on the last Sunday of most months. May may be a bummer, though. I'll have to fill the emptiness with Memorial Day hot dogs and hamburgers.


  1. Great post, Dawn. Did you decide on your brand persona yet? Let me know

  2. Thanks for the thorough summary of our April Writer's Coffeehouse, Dawn. I find that I come away with valuable insight every time I attend a meeting. Thanks again and thanks to Glenn for Tweeting it so I could find the link!


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