Reflections on the fourth Jot Conference

Andrew Rogers:

Thanks to everyone who came to JOT 4! I’ve written some thoughts about the evening on my blog. It was another fantastic night! – Andy

Originally posted on Tell Better Stories:

The flow of events

Last night The Weaklings put on the fourth Jot Conference. We had 82 people show up, and judging by an unofficial “raise your hand if this is your first time at Jot” poll from the stage, it looked like about one third of the audience were new people.


Our friend, Alison Hodgson, spoke first and provided three practical tips for writers: (1) Start writing; (2) Don’t stop; (3) Create your own “You’ll rue the day!” list, which is something of a black list you keep for recording the names of people who discourage you in your writing. Alison is a humorist, so I think this last tip is a joke. :-)

I spoke next and talked about lessons I’ve learned from my first year as an acquisitions editor. The talk seemed to be received well. My year as an acquisitions editor has been one of the…

View original 813 more words

Parking Your Cars at Jot 4

You know where to park your buns tonight once you get to Jot, but where should you park your car?

Baker Book House is a great bookstore with a small-ish parking lot. Fortunately, there are many great places to park nearby.


The largest lot is at the vacant Sanford-Brown Institute (soon to be a BioLife Plasma Center) on the corner of East Paris Ave. and Sparks Dr. If you are feeling daring, feel free to park across East Paris Ave. at either of the strip malls opposite Baker Book House.

Do NOT park at Cantina Mexican Grill, either in their main lot or their triangular overflow lot next to Baker Book House. They need these spaces for their customers as Friday nights are their busiest nights. If you are looking for a great place to eat before Jot, visit Cantina, but please move your cars afterward.



Visualizing Your Plot – Jeff Chapman on the Backbone of Fiction

There are many reasons to be excited about Jot IV: Better seating, a great lineup, and the expansion of our workshop classes.

Not only do we have poetry editor Matthew Landrum of Structo Magazine leading his poetry workshop once again (bring your poems!), but also one on blogging conducted by Josh Mosey – he’s been blogging six days a week for years and one conducted by local indie author Jeff Chapman. Jeff is going to help us go deeper in our novels and strengthen our plots.

The title for Jeff’s workshop pretty much sums it up – Visualizing Your Plot


We will discuss a method for graphing your plot to find low points in the story and work through some examples.

Why are plots so important? Because without plots our books would be beautiful staircases to nowhere.

A little bit about Jeff –

Jeff Chapman writes software by day and speculative fiction when he should be sleeping. His tales range from fantasy to horror and they don’t all end badly. His latest release is Last Request: A Victorian Gothic, available from Amazon at You can find him musing about words and fiction at

Please bring your computer or notepad and lets build some novels!

See you all tomorrow!

Featured Image -- 313

Interview with a Jot Presenter | Ellen Stumbo

Originally posted on Josh Mosey | Writer:


In case you did not know, the Jot Writers’ Conference happens tomorrow night. I thought we might take a moment and get to know one of the presenters, Ellen Stumbo.

The rest of the presenters are from the West Michigan area, but Ellen is visiting us from the wilds of Wisconsin. If you aren’t familiar with her writing, read on.

We did the following Q&A over email:

Can you give us a 2-3 sentence autobiography?

I write and speak about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. I am passionate about sharing the real -sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly – aspects of faith, disability, parenting, and adoption.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

Jerry Spinelli! I love him, love his books, I laugh out loud, I fight back tears, and he writes the type of books I want to write someday.

Leif Enger and his book Peace…

View original 547 more words

An Editors’ POV – Acquisitions Editor Andrew Rogers Shares From Behind His Desk

Andrew Rogers is an acquisitions editor at Discovery House Publishers and also a founding member of Jot and the Weaklings. He’s here to tell us a little bit about himself before he takes the stage at Jot IV, this Friday September 12th. If you are coming to Jot, please bring some questions for him during the Q&A time following his presentation.

What Authors have influenced you the most?

Ray Bradbury and C.S. Lewis. Bradbury in his use of imagery, his courage, and his style. Lewis in his ability to communicate thoughts on God in fresh language, and in how he teaches through similes and metaphors (see “Mere Christianity,” especially). Bradbury also helped me fall in love with the short story form.

What are your current projects?

Lately, I’ve written a short story that needs polished, and then needs a home. I’ve also been writing about writing and publishing for a few conference presentations this fall. 

Why do you write what you write?

I either write for fun (stories), I write for work (the conference presentations), or I write to make sense of what’s happening around me (my journal). If I had to pick just one reason to write, it would be the last one listed here. Writing helps me organize my thoughts and understand my emotions. The act of writing things down helps me process events and move on with life more confidently. It sounds selfish to say that, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s what it comes down to. 

What are you speaking on?

My talk is called “Myths and Lessons from a Year of Acquisitions.” I’m going to share what I have learned during my first year as an acquisitions editor for a publishing house. I’d like to bust some of the myths about acquisitions editors (we’re really not that scary!) and pass on some practical advice for writers who are looking to get published. 

What advice do you have for people interested in writing?

Find a group of writers who share your interest and cultivate meaningful friendships with them. I would not have accomplished anything in writing had I not had the friendship and support of my writers group and of my spouse. 

Please connect with Andrew through subscribing to his blog tellbetterstories or following him on twitter @ALRstories

Thank you Andrew.

See you all at Jot!

Poetry Workshop Information – Bring your work with you!

Moleskine diaryPoets and wannabe-poets have something to look forward to at the next Jot conference. After the presentations Matthew Landrum will be hosting a free poetry workshop. I asked him to describe it for me and here’s what he said:

Love and Cliches — Writing Originally About Life’s Most Important Subjects

In this workshop we’ll discuss the work of fellow Jot attendees and ponder a problem that perpetually plagues poets (and prose writers too) — that the most important subjects in life (love, death, religion, etc) have been written about so thoroughly (and at times so poorly) that they’re hard to write about without sounding trite or unoriginal. Poets and non-poets alike are welcome. Those who wish to bring work to workshop should bring 15 copies of a poem. 

If you decide to attend, please bring your writing. You’ll have time in this workshop to read your poetry (if you wish) and/or edit your work while the discussion is going. We’re hopeful that the Jot Conference is not just a place where you learn new things about the craft of writing, but that it is also an event at which you’ll actually get some writing done.

Bring your Moleskines and your favorite pen. It’s time to write.


5 Reasons To Use Google Docs To Write Your Novel

In the last post we discussed the burden of finding time to write for the busy writer. If you are an aspiring novelist and own a smart phone, this post will show you how to get words down throughout your day, and how to always have your work with you.

When I go to work, or when I get in bed, I have my smart phone and blue tooth keyboard with me ($25 investment). I might not use them all of the time, but they’ve become my invaluable companions along with Google Drive. Here’s why.

  1. I can write anywhere. I can crank out two paragraphs at lunch, write three before bed, and have one page-ish done. Have a dentist or doctor’s appointment? Bam, another paragraph. Do this for a week and I have seven pages. Do this for a year, 365 pages. That’s one novel, my friend.
  1. You can access Google docs anywhere. A library, your phone, your laptop, your work computer (though not during work!), at your friends or parents house. Your novel is always with you, always accessible, even without your laptop or phone.
  1. You can leave notes/ get comments. If you have a friend who is an accomplished writer, you can share the document with them. They can add a comment (or hundred) and save it when they are done reviewing. You won’t misplace them either.
  1. You will never lose your work to a computer failure/hack or fire or water damage. Unless you forget your password…
  1. You can create all sorts of graphs and excel documents and keep them in one place and, yes again, they are accessible anywhere. Need to access your character spreadsheet? Oh, it’s there on your phone in your pocket. Where was your plot going? Two clicks, oh yeah here’s my plot document.

I hope you take this as a “this is what works for me” post. If you have suggestions on how to write a novel, or tools and tricks that have helped you persevere, please share below. We love hearing from you and hope to see you at JOT IV on September 12th!