Category Archives: News and Information for Writers

Author Tracy Richardson – Work In Progress – Aliens and Earth in Crisis

Tracy Richardson, author of The Field and Indian Summer talks about her current work in progress.

I’m about a quarter of the way through with the very rough draft of my next untitled novel. Titles are really hard and I’m hoping for some inspiration to strike somewhere in the writing process!

As in my other books there is an environmental theme. I’m very concerned about what humans are doing to our planet with pollution, nuclear radiation, fracking, and burning fossil fuels. There is a lot of evidence that what we do harms the planet and I believe that there is a limit to what the Earth can absorb of our throw-away culture. There are better, healthier alternatives to plastic waste, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and fossil fuels. Don’t even get me started on antibacterial soap! Antibiotics are turning up in mountain stream water! We just have to show a commitment on a personal level. What you do does matter. Corporations and governments won’t change of their own volition. They change in response to economic pressures – buying habits of consumers – and public pressure – how we vote. My way of showing my commitment is to include these issues in my books interwoven with stories of normal teens.

In THE FIELD the characters learn about and interact with The Universal Energy Field and the Collective Consciousness. This book will have aliens. Or star-beings, or extra-terrestrials – whatever you want to call them. If you think about the vastness of the Universe – billions of galaxies, billions of stars with billions of planets – I think it is naive, and really arrogant, as well,  to assume that we are the only form of intelligent life out there. Or that we are the most advanced form of life. These other life forms could be so advanced that they could already be here without our knowledge. At least the knowledge of the general population. There are certainly enough UFO sightings by credible sources such as airline pilots and military personnel to make one wonder about it.

A lot of books and movies about aliens have them attacking Earth. Then there are movies such as Interstellar, ET, Contact, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. What if that is the truth? What if star-beings don’t mean to harm us, but want to help us? Are we ready to accept their help?

Here are some sites with more information.

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute – SETI – Carl Sagan Center

Institute of Noetic Sciences – IONS Founded by Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell – Science and Consciousness


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Al Riske discusses his writing process for THE POSSIBILITY OF SNOW

By Al Riske on The Possibility of Snow

As I look back, I see that I’ve often written about missteps and misunderstands, crossed signals and bad timing, usually between men and women. In The Possibility of Snow, it’s two guys.

They become friends and then, well, not.

Big deal, right? Guys tend to become friends almost by accident—some combination of shared circumstances and sensibilities—and drift apart as easily as they came together.

The characters in The Possibility of Snow, Steve and Neil, meet in college, where, away from home for the first time, guys find themselves in need of new friends as never before (and perhaps never again, not with the same urgency).

It’s also the place and time in which we are all looking to define ourselves, to decide what and who we want to be.

The combination of similarities and differences that bring Steve and Neil together makes it hard for them to either stay friends or simply go their separate ways. Each is unlike anyone the other has ever known.

To me, that dynamic proved fascinating, mystifying, and ultimately unsettling.

Through their story, I found myself exploring the limits of loyalty, compassion, belief, and forgiveness.

Learn more about The Possibility of Snow at the Luminis website.


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Tips for Writers

Would be authors often ask us one of two questions – 1) How do I get published? and 2) What are you looking for in a submission? Here are some of our answers as well as tips we’ve learned over the years from authors, editors and publishers. They are in no particular order. (The third thing people always say when they find out we are publishers is that they’ve always wanted to write a book.)

How to Get Published

1. Write – this may seem obvious, but often isn’t. Many writers bandy about the acronym BIC – Butt In Chair. You can’t write a book unless you actually sit down and do the work.

2. Write some more. The first thing you write won’t be very good. You will have to revise a lot. And then revise again.

3. Join a writers group. They will help you hone your craft and give you constructive feedback on your work.

4. Go to writers conferences. You will meet other writers and learn from published authors, agents, and editors. You may also have an opportunity to submit your writing directly to the editors and agents at the conference.

5. Have your work professionally edited. This is very important. You want to put your best foot forward as you may not get a second chance.

6. Write a really good cover letter.

7. Write a really good synopsis.

8. Research agents and publishers to find those who are looking for the type of book that you’ve written. Do waste your time sending your chick-lit novel to an agent who represents thrillers or mysteries only.

9. Submit your work according to the guidelines of the agent or publisher that you’ve selected.

10. Start work on your next book.

11. Write the book that you are meant to write. Don’t try to follow the latest trend because it will be over by the time your book gets published.

What is Luminis looking for in a submission

1. The first thing we look for is quality writing. If your cover letter sucks, then it goes to reason that your book might suck, too! (See #’s 6&7 above)

2. The second thing we look for is a story that is compelling. Is this something that we want to read? Is it interesting and meaningful – (see our tagline)?

3. When we are reading your ten page submission or manuscript, does it make sense, does the story flow, do I want to continue reading?

4. Are the characters well developed?

5. Luminis publishes meaningful fiction that entertains, so that means we aren’t really looking for chick-lit or mysteries, or adventure stories or crime novels.

6. Be patient – the publishing world moves slowly.

7. Be persistent. Keep on submitting your work and follow-up on your submissions (although you may never hear from some of the agents and publishers.

This list isn’t exhaustive or definitive, but we hope it is helpful! If you’ve written a good book, then it will get published!

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Fall Title Preview – Consolations by Sally Wolfe

Consolations by Sally Wolfe publishes November 1st – Order your copy today!

“In Sister Bridget, Sally Wolfe has created a brave and intelligent heroine, whose spiritual quest tests her mercilessly. Consolations, a beautifully-told story of spiritual longing and forbidden love, moves across the landscape from leafy New England to the arroyos of Santa Fe, carrying the reader along on an engrossing journey of spiritual and sexual awakening.”

-Elizabeth McKenzie, author of the critically-acclaimed Stop That Girl



A beautiful and haunting story of forbidden love, Consolations portrays a woman’s lifelong struggle to reconcile her all-too-human feelings with her quest for the highest spiritual life.

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Luminis Prize 2013 at the Midwest Writer’s Workshop

Tracy Richardson, President of Luminis Books, presented this year’s Luminis Prize for writing at the 40th annual Midwest Writer’s Workshop on the campus of Ball State University.





Annie Sullivan was awarded the prize for a 20 page excerpt of her young adult novel, Goldilocks. Visit the Luminis Prize page of the Luminis Books website to read it in it’s entirety. Here’s what Tracy had to say about Goldilocks.

“Annie’s novel is a clever retelling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. She pulls the reader in immediately with smart dialog and fast paced action. The story unfolds during the opening fight scene between Goldilocks and her friend Rhys as she battles him in her tryout for the Night Watch who guard the village from a family of maurading bears. Annie’s descriptions are rich and detailed and her characters are real and fully formed. Goldilocks is imaginative and well crafted.”

Congratulations to Annie Sullivan!

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How I Came to Write SABRINA’S WINDOW and PRECARIOUS by author Al Riske

Sabrina’s Window is still a mystery to me, even though I wrote it.

I wrote the first few pages years ago, set them aside, and forgot about them. I can’t recall how I came across them again, but I picked up the story where I had left off.

I never knew where I was going with it, but scenes came to me one by one in random order. Often I’d wake up early in the morning with a bit of dialogue in my head. I’d play the lines over and over again because I didn’t want to get out of bed and I didn’t want to forget. Then more lines would come and I’d have to get up and write them down.

Later I decided the story was taking place in Taos, New Mexico, because I’ve always liked it there. I surrounded myself with postcards, brochures and magazines that my wife and I had collected on our trips there. And I had an evocative water color by Greg Moon, “La Loma II,” hanging in the studio where I write.

My soundtrack was The Wheel, a deeply moving album by Rosanne Cash.

At first I thought I was writing a short story, but it just kept getting longer. It took me about a year to write the first draft, and two more years to flesh the whole thing out.

I have always been fascinated by the conflicts that come up between the sexes. The mystery of attraction. Gender roles. Power struggles. Trying to find the right balance. Those are the things I tend to come back to again and again in my writing.

Precarious Stories of Love, Sex and Misunderstanding





The stories in Precarious were written over a period of 30 years and they’re all very different, but as it turns out, they’re all about the same thing. Women and men. An endlessly fascinating topic. I suppose I wrote them to figure out how I felt about certain things.

The great thing about short stories is they can make you feel what someone else felt. The better the story, the more subtle and nuanced the feelings. Anyway, that’s what I look for as a reader. The surprise as a writer is how you can make yourself feel things you never felt before or never knew you felt. 

Writers are like actors. We get to play a lot of different roles, try out a range of personalities and live lives very different from our own. 

I wrote these stories to find out what would happen to the characters and how things would turn out for them. I wrote them because I felt like I had some things to say that I couldn’t say any other way.


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How I Came to Write This Book ~ Vallie Lynn Watson discusses the process of writing A RIVER SO LONG



Hotel rooms, and fear of the unknown, are essential to the brew of A River So Long.
My fascination with hotels long predates my writing life, but it wasn’t until I found a childhood friend online recently, and she commented, after updates, “That’s great; you’ve always wanted to be a writer,” that I realized I’d finally done what I’d always felt too intimidated to do: I’d written a book.
The first section I wrote towards the novel was published as a flash fiction in 971 Menu under the same name, “A River So Long,” a lyric from Joni Mitchell’s “River.” It was the summer of 2007, a luxury New Orleans hotel room, an escape from my nearby doctoral program. It stormed, and I sat at the 32nd floor window and watched the river life, the downtown movement, took notes, wrote a tiny story. When I got home I wrote another tiny story, then another, then realized they were starting to build towards a larger narrative.
I was still daunted by the idea of writing a novel, but these small pieces—between a paragraph and a couple pages—were manageable, and before I knew it I had a dozen. And somehow I tricked myself into believing I wasn’t writing a novel as the pieces continued to come together, pieces that could no longer always work independently. But thinking in terms of sections, and compiling them to form a larger work made the process seem possible. I didn’t even realize it when I stopped considering the parts as fragments, and instead considered them to be chapters, chapters which accumulate into a tale with hazy sense of time and place, which serves to characterize the main character, Veronica.
Before I knew it, I had written a novel.

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How I Came to Write SECOND VERSE by author Jennifer Walkup


Novel ideas often appear out of nowhere, as if by magic. Yet others are inspired by chance things that cross my path and set my mind reeling.

For Second Verse, it was the December 2010 issue of Rolling Stone – it was the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and the magazine featured a never-before-published interview that had been recorded just days before his murder. The interview, along with the sidebar article by Yoko Ono, struck me on a variety of emotional planes, but it also planted a kernel of an idea. Although it had nothing really to do with the article itself, a what if scenario – about love, death, the blueprint of person, and the ways these things might fit together – began to burrow into me, and it quickly grew into a plot. Within days there were characters and a setting and a mystery brewing. Weeks later the plot was completely different, some characters had changed, others were introduced, and still others had been removed. Nothing stayed the same in that first draft – the genre shifted, the mystery bobbed and weaved as it unraveled, and little paranormal elements bubbled to the surface. After a few more months, I had a very rough draft that would change countless times and in extreme ways over the course of the following year. But at its heart, the same early ideas and ideals, the basic what if questions, had been woven into Lange’s and Vaughn’s story and were very much still present.

It should be said that Second Verse has absolutely nothing to do with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, or the murder of a famous rock star. But, there was something in that article, some quote or line or small detail, that opened a certain emotional well and thought stream that led me down the road of telling the story that would eventually be Second Verse.

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Waimea Williams Special Guest at Squaw Valley with Amy Tan

Congratulations to Waimea Williams, author of ALOHA, MOZART, who is an honored special guest at this year’s Squaw Valley Writers’ Conference along with Amy Tan, author of THE JOY LUCK CLUB and THE KITCHEN GOD’S WIFE, and Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize winning author of INDEPENDENCE DAY. 

Every summer for over 40 years, the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley has brought together fiction and non-fiction writers, poets, screenwriters, and aspiring participants for workshops, individual conferences, lectures, panels, readings, and discussions of the craft and the business of writing.
Waimea has a long connection to Squaw Valley and the Bay Area. She studied creative writing at UC Berkley’s SF extension and spent a year in a San Francisco writers’ group with Amy Tan when Amy was starting her second book. At Squaw Valley, co-founder Oakley Hall was Waimea’s mentor, and she worked with Robert Stone and Richard Ford. At this year’s July presentations by alumni authors, Waimea will read from her novel ALOHA, MOZART.

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Why I Wrote MAYBE I WILL by author Laurie Gray


Maybe I Will started with a poem I wrote when I was in high school about finding the character that is really me. The poem is included in Chapter 13 and called “My Character.” I’m a member of a local Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrator’s critique group, and when I had shared that poem, one of my writer friends said, “It seems like there’s enough there for a novel.”

I started thinking about the Shakespeare quote that “All the world’s a stage,” and decided to research character by reading The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  In the process I became quite enamored with Shakespeare and intrigued by the fact that all of Shakespeare’s characters, even the women, were played by men, because women were not allowed on stage as actors. Shakespeare explored this gender bias quite comically in As You Like It, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, and Twelfth Night by having the women characters disguise themselves as men, so that the male actor had to act like a woman posing as a man.

At the same time, I was working as a deputy prosecuting attorney handling juvenile sex offenses, and as I was deciding which cases to charge and specifically what crimes to charge, I often found myself questioning my own gender biases and asking myself if I would feel differently about a case if the gender of the suspect and victim were reversed. There were many cases similar to what happens to Sandy. If Sandy is female, then there’s almost a presumption that she consented to the assault absent evidence that she was prepared to fight to the extreme of her own death. If Sandy is male, then we prefer to think of it as “hazing” rather than sexual assault or assume that Sandy must be gay. 

That’s when I came up with the idea of writing the novel in the first person and never identifying the main character as male or female. I wrote the entire book with both genders in mind, testing each scene and dialogue with Sandy as both. Overall, I found Sandy to be very human and realistic regardless of gender.  This struck me as especially powerful since the one thing that I’ve learned by working in the area of sexual assault is that it is an assault, and it’s not about sex. Sex is just the weapon used to control and manipulate a victim, inducing fear, shame and, too often, silence. I wrote Maybe I Will to break the silence that persists with regard to sexual assault and gender bias.

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