Poynter’s 4 Ways to Cope With Newsroom Stress


Actually, these are good “Poynters” for any work or life situation. They could prevent stress before it builds up.

Now, where did I put my crayons?

January 23: Roanoke Regional Writers Conference

roland lazenby and me
Conference director Dan Smith (left) and author and biographer Roland Lazenby.

UPDATE: The conference has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 30, due to an expected snowstorm.

The 2016 Roanoke Regional Writers Conference is on Saturday, January 23, at Hollins University. (For details, schedule and to register, go here.)

Twenty or so writers, authors, journalists and publishing professionals will speak and teach classes on a range of topics, including yours truly. This is the ninth edition of the popular writers conference.

More from conference director Dan Smith:

The conference, which has been held over two days for the past eight years and has featured 24 classes each year, has slimmed down in every respect for the coming year. The entire conference will be contained on Saturday and the number of classes will be trimmed to a more manageable 18. The cost of the conference has also been reduced to $65, including lunch on Saturday in the Hollins dining room.

This year’s featured topic is blogging and there will be three classes held for those interested in beginning a blog or improving the one they have (including increasing the following). Other classes will deal with storytelling, fiction, biography, memoir, converting a manuscript to the stage, editing, publishing (traditional and self-publishing), and poetry.



Saturday, January 23, 2016 [snow date January 30]

All classes will be held in the Dana Science Building.

[#12 on the campus map]  Continue reading “January 23: Roanoke Regional Writers Conference”

My Tips in Seattle’s ‘Marketing’

Thanks to publisher Larry Coffman for sharing my writing tips in the November issue of Marketing:

• Neil’s Notes: Good friend and author (The Longest Shot) offers these five sensible steps in the writing process for writers of any ilk:

  1. Ideas: Brainstorm. Get them out of your head. Many will stink.
  2. Research. Collect information. Observe the world. Talk to people.
  3. Notes and Outline. Get organized. Shape the material you’ve collected. Get ready to write. 
  4. Rough Draft. This is where you write everything down, so to speak. Get the story out; don’t edit yet.
  5. Rewrite, edit and polish. This step is self-explanatory. If your writing was woodwork, this is the chiseling and sanding stage and where you add a finishing coat.

VIDEO: #saynotospec

Clever video from Zulu Alpha Kilo.

From the publisher:

Architects don’t give away their blueprints. Diners don’t fork out free meals. Personal Trainers don’t sign over their intellectual property on spec. This video pokes fun at the speculative creative bidding process in new business pitches. We believe there’s a better way for agencies and clients to find the perfect match.

5 Tips for Getting a Studio-Quality Author Photo Without Paying for It

Every step as a first-time author is new, and that includes the author photo. According to my book contract, it was my responsibility to provide an author photo to the publisher. Following are five tips I discovered for producing a snazzy author photo without putting a dent in the bank account.

My author photo.
My author photo.

1. Get professional help at low or no cost. Snapping your own author photo may be easy and permissible, but it’s unlikely to match the highly skilled efforts of a professional photographer. And it’s possible to hire a pro without paying studio prices. One option is to offer your writing services in trade for photography. Another is to lure a photographer with the promise of a photo credit on your book or a mention and link at your website. I asked a friend who is an art director to assist me with my author photo. He gladly accepted the job without pay, telling me all he wanted was a photo credit and an autographed copy of my book.

2. Wear appropriate and complementary attire. Things to consider include the image you want to project and what colors and styles look best on you. Since my book was about golf, I decided to wear a polo shirt, slacks and loafers. On the eve of the photo shoot, I searched my closet for shirt options and asked my wife to weigh in. A light-blue polo was the winning pick.

3. Have photo ideas but trust the pro. Arrive at the shoot with ideas about your author photo. Do you want a head shot only? Are there particular poses or looks you like or dislike? That said, be open to the ideas and direction of the photographer. There’s a reason why they’re pros—they make people look terrific. I met my friend at a local country club and we rode a golf cart to find attractive course settings. He snapped numerous pictures of me in a variety of poses. Later, he used his photo-editing skills to merge shots of me with different course backgrounds to create the best images.

4. Ask for feedback to choose best shots. It’s wise to consider the opinions of others before making your author photo selection(s). I chose a few people who have my best interests in mind—the photographer, my literary agent and my wife. All three told me which photos they liked best. Then I made my final picks.

5. Say “thank you” in a special way. If, like me, you’re able to get an author photo for low or no cost, be sure to express your gratitude with a thank-you note or more if your budget allows. I sent my photographer friend a gift card for a local restaurant. He treated his wife and mother-in-law to a fancy lunch that included a hot fudge brownie for dessert. It was a sweet deal for both of us.