The Jot Conference Happens Tomorrow Night


If this is the first you’ve heard of Jot, don’t worry. There’s still time to cancel whatever plans you made for tomorrow night. Unless you were planning to attend Jot. Keep those plans.

We’re going to have a great conference. In case you were curious about the content being presented, fellow writer and Jot co-founder, Bob Evenhouse, has been posting interviews on the Jot Blog:

And our keynote speaker is the award-winning author, Tracy Groot. (Read her interview here)

Best of all, the entire thing is free to attend. Don’t miss it!

On the Origin of Jot

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “jot” stems from the Latin “jota” which is a derivation of the Greek “iota”, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. Thus, a jot is one of the smallest things you can write. And it has taken this meaning as both noun (the smallest letter) and verb (to write a small amount).

Jot is also the name that my writer’s group settled on when we came up with our free, one-night writer’s conference concept. As busy guys with full-time jobs and families, we don’t always have the time or money to attend big writers’ conferences, awesome though they be. So we decided to start one of our own targeting the needs of people like us.

So the Jot Conference, or mini-conference if you prefer, is one night only. It is free to attend. And it offers quality sessions on a variety of writing topics by amazing guest speakers who are presenting by the goodness of their hearts (we don’t actually pay any of the speakers, so if you come, be sure to buy their books and tell them that you appreciate their time).

The next Jot is happening on Friday, March 14th, from 7 – 11 pm, at Baker Book House, 2768 E Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.


Tracy Groot

Our keynote speaker is the award-winning author of the newly-released The Sentinels of Andersonville, Tracy Groot.

Other speakers include the author Susie Finkbeiner, speaker and editorial director of Baker Books Chad Allen, and budding novelist Thomas McClurg. We even have a free poetry workshop (available to sign up for at registration) with poetry editor of Structo Magazine, Matthew Landrum.

Keep up to date by following the Jot blog. I hope to see you there!

Breathe In, Breathe Out


breathe2012-300x225This Friday, I’ll be doing a workshop on flash fiction at the Breathe Christian Writers Conference.

This will be my third time presenting something at Breathe, and it’s always an honor to be there. The first year, I did a team presentation with my friend Andrew Rogers on What Publishers and Bookstores Want Authors to know about Marketing. The second year, I did a thing on Creating Successful Bookstore Events. Those events made a lot of sense, given my job in marketing for Baker Book House.

But this year, my credentials are a bit thin. Sure, I write flash fiction. Sure, I think everyone should write flash fiction. And sure, I think that flash fiction is going to be the next big thing in the mainstream. But outside of my personal blog, my flash fiction has never been published.

Is that a problem? I hope not. Since the goal of my workshop is to introduce people to the idea of storycraft on the minor scale, I don’t think it makes a big difference whether my name is recognizable for flash fiction or not. In fact, virtually no one is famous for their flash fiction, so even if I were one of the greats, there is a very small chance that someone would have heard of me anyway.

I think the biggest asset I can bring to the Breathe Conference is my passion for an underutilized fiction form. I didn’t realize how committed to short-form fiction I was until I spoke with people after the last Jot Conference. I found myself inserting it time and again into conversations with my fellow writers, perhaps even when it didn’t belong. And that’s okay (or so I tell myself), because if people can walk away from my workshop as energized about writing as I am while speaking about flash, my talk will have been a success.

I know that online registration for the conference is now closed, but if you are interested in attending, I’m sure that you’ll still be able to pay at the door. Check out the conference line-up here. I hope to see you there on Friday!

Oh, and one last plug for Chad Allen’s event at Baker Book House tonight. Be there.

Jot II: Revenge of the Jot

jot_poster2My writers group, The Weaklings, met this past week to discuss our upcoming writer’s mini-conference, Jot.

You may have seen some announcements go out on Facebook or maybe you noticed my re-blog of the event schedule. Or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. In any case, you are reading this now and soon will have no excuses for ignorance. Sorry about that. Excuses for ignorance can be great things indeed.

Here’s the deal with Jot. It is a free writer’s mini-conference, which makes it considerably less expensive than every other writer’s conference out there. Heck, it’s even cheaper than the pony rides at the grocery store. Jot is a one-night event, featuring five short sessions of guidance and encouragement for writers of all kinds. Our speakers represent the gamut of writing genres. Matthew Landrum is a poetry editor. Bob Evenhouse writes long-form fantasy fiction. Jessie Clemence just published a non-fiction book on parenting. Sam Carbaugh is an accomplished illustrator and works with comic books. There’s even going to be a panel discussion on writer’s groups. And I get to emcee the whole evening.

It’s going to be a great time. If you are within driving distance of Grand Rapids, MI, you should come to Jot. It’s being held again at the beautifully renovated Baker Book House, 2768 E Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, on Friday, September 13th from 7 to 11pm.

I really hope to see you there. Also, you should consider signing up for the Jot blog. There may just be some advantageous coupons for coffee lovers featured there real soon.

Remember to Breathe

I had two exciting messages via email and Facebook the other day.

Breathe Christian Writer's ConferenceIn the first, I was invited to be a speaker at the Breathe Writers Conference in October. My topic will be Flash Fiction. The organizers reached out to me because of my presentation on that topic at Jot, the mini-conference that my writer’s group put together. I’ve been a speaker at Breathe before, but my topic then was on how bookstores can help writers (checkout my Bookstore Symbiosis series here on my blog for the gist of my talk).

I’m pretty excited about getting my talk together and differentiating it from what I used at Jot. Also, I’m hoping to have some flash fiction publishing credits to my name by then so I can feel qualified to speak on the topic.

The other message I got the other day was from the film maker I mentioned a while back who was looking for some material to turn into short movies. He had a friend write an adaptation of one of my 100 word stories and asked me to look it over. The adaptation is amazing! I can’t wait for you all to see it!

He mentioned that they are hoping to film it sometime this summer, so there’s a chance that I’ll be able to show it at my talk in October at Breathe.

In any case, be sure to check out the Breathe website for more details. Having been there as both a speaker and an attendee, I can honestly tell you that it is a writer’s conference like no other. The speakers they choose always have time to talk to the attendees, the other attendees are always kind, and the general feel of the conference is always supportive.

The keynote speaker this year is Latayne C. Scott. Here’s her bio from the Breathe site:

Latayne C. Scott is the award-winning author of over a dozen books, published by major Christian publishers such as Zondervan, Moody, Baker, Word and others. In addition, she has published poems, radio plays, and hundreds of articles in magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman, Guideposts, Writer’s Digest, The Upper Room, Christian Research Journal, Christian Retailing, and Military Officer. A full-time writer, she also speaks at seminars, retreats, and on television and radio programs. She is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for Creative Christian Writing, and makes her home in her native New Mexico.

If you have any inkling of becoming a writer, be sure to check it out.