This article was originally posted at the author’s website, reprinted here with permission. Updated on 6/19/2019.

I’m writing this post because fanfiction is a buzzword again, thanks to the publication of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James–or, more specifically, the Twitter debacle that was #AskELJames, which included tweets slamming fanfiction in general. I’ve seen several posts from authors defending fanfiction in response to such tweets–and fanfiction very well should be defended–but I’m also disheartened to see that many well-intentioned people misunderstand the legalities of fanfiction and the Fair Use clause, and are shooting incorrect information out there into the world.

Before I elaborate on the legal stuff, let me add this disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not licensed to provide legal counsel to anyone. But I do know copyright and fair use, because it’s an integral part of what I do for a living (I make things, yay!). That, and the U.S. Copyright Office website is very clear on defining these terms, so I have no problem discussing them and linking to the source material throughout this post.

Here are the icky truths that people don’t always want to hear, especially when it comes to fanworks:

  • Without permission directly granted from the original copyright owner, any creation of derivative works is illegal.
  • Copyright violators do not determine if their work falls under the protection of Fair Use; that decision is made through arbitration.
  • Fair Use is not a right. Fair Use is a defense argument used in legal proceedings, and is a circumstantial provision that does not guarantee protection for those who violate copyright law.
  • Attribution isn’t a protection from copyright violation, but you still need to do it anyway.
  • Including disclaimers with derivative works (“All rights belong to their prospective owners” / “These characters don’t belong to me” / “Work is protected under Fair Use”) is not a protection from copyright violation. If you’re going to bother including a disclaimer, you still need to properly attribute the author, copyright holder, and trademark owner.

And probably the biggest one that puts people into defense-mode:

Taking something that isn’t yours, without permission, is stealing.

The specific erroneous statement that pushed me to write this post was a pro blogger’s claim that fanfiction is “a transformative work protected under copyright law.”

Well…there are two ways to interpret that statement:

  • Transformation of an original work doesn’t violate copyright.
  • The transformation itself (the new work) is protected under copyright law.

#1 is incorrect.
#2 is correct.

Fun, right?

Fanworks–fanfiction, fan art, fan films–are derivatives of an original work. They “transform” the original work by taking major pieces from it (characters, plot, etc.) and placing those original components in new scenarios with new depictions. Without permission from the original copyright holder to build upon, transmit, copy, and transform a preexisting work, derivatives are illegal.

Why are they illegal? Because, as Title 17 of the US Code explains, rights to a created work are exclusive to the creator. It’s a Constitutional Provision meant to protect authors and their work, but is also meant to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts” by limiting the exclusivity of the work–meaning, eventually, creations will belong to everyone (Source). Until that time passes, you cannot take what isn’t yours, no matter how well-intentioned you may be.

It is very important to emphasize that copyright does not protect ideas, but instead, how ideas are rendered.

The Star Wars vs. Harry Potter infographic is effective because it illustrates that these works share ideas but their creators render them very, very differently. J. K. Rowling decided to write a fantasy set in a parallel, magical world that exists along with our own, set in the UK in the relative present. George Lucas decided to write a space opera set “long ago in a galaxy far far away.” Concepts may overlap, but the key elements of the narrative–characters, dialogue, voice, etc.–are original, wholly belonging to their respective creators.

In other words, ideas are intangibles that belong to and are shared by everyone, but their specific, unique expressions, once physically rendered, belong to the individual creator. In the US (and many other countries worldwide), that uniquely rendered piece is automatically protected under copyright law. What is one man’s hobby is another one’s livelihood, and copyright law is designed to protect both.

And now, a case study!

Once upon a time, fanfiction author Snow Queen’s Ice Dragon took Twilight‘s lead characters Bella and Edward, as created by author Stephenie Meyer, and wrote them into a new story called “Master of the Universe.” She, like thousands of other readers, wanted more from Bella and Edward’s relationship–Twilight was marketed to teenagers, and adult readers wanted to see something that reflected adult interests and situations. “Master of the Universe” was a fanfic that included Bella and Edward in a BDSM, sexual relationship–an R-rated Twilight readers were looking for.

Snow Queen’s Ice Dragon broke the law when she wrote “Master of the Universe,” because she did not invent, and did not own, the characters of Bella and Edward–Stephenie Meyer did. The only way Snow Queen’s Ice Dragon fanfic would be legal is if she contacted author Stephenie Meyer directly to get permission to publish “Master of the Universe” (yes, posting online means you are, in fact, publishing your work).

She published it anyway. And it was so popular that she later decided to commercially self-publish it as an ebook, and after making a good deal of money from that, made a deal with Random House and made a hell of a lot more money. “Master of the Universe” is now known as “Fifty Shades of Grey” and Snow Queen’s Ice Dragon is now known as E. L. James. And she’s a bazillionaire, because she gave her fans exactly they wanted.

But there was still a huge outcry from the public about the situation, saying that the similarities warranted legal action. My basic understanding is that Random House and E. L. James scrubbed “Master of the Universe” of all of its Twilight references, but kept everything else. Why? Because “everything else” legally belongs to E. L. James–it’s her unique rendition of overlapping ideas.

Random House asserts that “[…] the 50 Shades series is wholly original fiction and that the author has warranted it [a]s original fiction, deviating substantially from the original fan fiction known as Master of the Universe” (Source). The internet disagrees with Random House’s claim and there’s some pretty interesting line-by-line comparisons showing that not a lot was changed between “Master” and “50 Shades”…but legally, does it matter?


  • E. L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” does not contain Stephenie Meyer’s plot, characters, and original prose–it is a work unique to E.L. James.
  • Stephenie Meyer recognized that “Fifty Shades” was completely different than her own (source). Her acquiescence demonstrates that she does not see a copyright or legal issue with the publication of “Fifty Shades.”
  • “Master of the Universe,” which did violate copyright, was taken down and is unavailable to readers except for the small snippets in blog posts where people are making comparisons between that and “Fifty Shades.” Essentially, “Master of the Universe” no longer exists, and Stephenie Meyer chose not to take legal action against E. L. James for “Master” or “50 Shades.”

Basically, the copyright violations were removed, and most importantly, the original author doesn’t care about the copyright violation anyway, so that’s that.

“Kristina, why are you writing this? Are you against fanfiction or something?” Nope. I love fanfiction. I wrote Harry Potter parodies and fanfiction starting as early as 1999, before the internet made fandoms and fanworks a tangible thing. I tend to do fanart more than anything else, but I recently wrote fanfic for Darker than Black that I hope to post online at some point, and some dirty fanfic for Dramatical Murder that may never see the light of day because I can’t believe my brain could pump something like that out.

Fanfiction is amazing because it allows you to be experimental in safe parameters, and indeed write things you never thought your brain could pump out. Fanfiction is a great way to learn to write, and a great way to learn about directly connecting to an audience and fulfilling their needs, which is key if you want to break out into commercial fiction. Fanfiction communities can provide great support and direct feedback. And above all else, fanfiction is incredibly fun…

Which is why you shouldn’t stop writing fanfic, or making fan art, or shooting fan films and making parodies.

You just need to be aware that there is a risk when you publish this stuff, and it’s simply this: if the copyright owner makes a claim against your work, you must submit to the demands of the copyright holder.

That means if the author tells you to take something down, you take it down and you leave it down. It also means that if the author seeks litigation, you must recognize that they have the right to do so (and that’s when you can hope your lawyer will use the Fair Use defense).

Many authors and artists are just fine with fanworks. They see fans as invaluable, and sometimes even as family; they also recognize the perks of fanfic and fanarts–free publicity, a built-in, dedicated audience, and (depending on their attitude), a source for valid criticism and mutual inspiration.

There are others who are vehemently against fanfiction (George R. R. Martin and Anne Rice, for example) and they have every right, legal and personal, to discourage it (while fans are important, authors don’t “owe” them).  There may be authors who don’t have a problem with fanfiction, but their publishers, agents, or licensees do, so the author professionally sides with them (Ursula Le Guin is an example). And there are some authors who admit they don’t quite understand fanfiction, so they stay neutral or avoid it altogether (like Juliet Marillier).

If you’re not sure about an author’s personal stance on fanworks, you can usually find out their policy or opinion directly on their websites. Another great resource is‘s vast compilation of Professional Author Fanfic Policies, which continues to grow as more information is made available. I highly recommend checking it out!

Don’t be afraid of making fanworks. Fanworks are amazing!

Just be informed, and make decisions that mitigate potential consequences of copyright violation:

  • Try to get permission from the copyright holder if you want to publish a derivative work. If you don’t know where to start, read this article. It’s not as difficult as you may think to contact the owner for permissions, and I’m speaking from experience.
  • Know the author or artist’s policies on fanworks–if they’re against it, then you probably shouldn’t publish.
  • Authors and artists who are against fanworks are not bad people. One of the arguments I read from a particularly frothy Anne Rice complaint is that she had no right to go after fans, and that she should be appreciative that fanfiction of her work even exists. Nope. Authors don’t owe you accolades or adoration because you “borrowed” something they labored over. If they are “unappreciative” of your appropriation, you don’t fire back with a “you should be grateful!” argument. Nope nope nope.
  • Publish in safe communities, where fanworks are promoted and encouraged (net,deviantArtWattpad, etc).
  • Don’t sell fanworks! If you charge for anything that is derivative or transformative, this will hurt the Fair Use defense if legal action is taken against you. Plus, profiting off of others’ work without permission is just a dick thing to do. Although many fanartists sell derivative work (posters, tee shirts, etc.), they might’ve gotten the licensing to do so. And if they didn’t, just because it seems like they’re getting away with it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll go that way for you, too. There will always be a risk if you sell derivative works without permission; if you want to play it safe, stay not-for-profit.
  • Always provide proper attribution when you use things that aren’t yours, and if you’re going to do a disclaimer, you need to be very clear–writing “I don’t own this” is a WELL, DUH. Something like, “This is a non-commercial work of fanfiction. The characters of Draco Malfoy and Luna Lovegood are the sole invention and property of author J. K. Rowling” is a lot more effective than “Rights belong to their prospective owners,” which is a weak, deliberately vague statement. Attribution and disclaimers do not negate copyright violation, but they are a factor in determining the Fair Use defense (which again, is decided in the courts, and not by you). Attribution and disclaimers also provide credit where credit is due, which is the proper way to go about acknowledging work that isn’t yours.
  • Comply with all requests and don’t get defensive about it. Again, if you didn’t get permission to take it, you stole it. The original owner has the right to send a cease-and-desist or DCMA takedown notice, and you must comply with their request. If they choose to take legal action against you, they are in their right to do so. I personally never hear of litigation happening unless the infringement harms the original owner’s livelihood in some way (hurting their business, theft of profits, etc.), so usually, it’s a request for deletion and nothing beyond that (in other words, don’t panic!).
  • If you want to make money off of fanworks, check out places like Kindle Worlds, which has several franchises available for fanfic writers to legally publish their works for profit. [Update: Kindle Worlds was completely shuttered 8/29/2018.]  You can also check out works in the public domain, or search Creative Commons for licenses that allow derivative works for commercial purposes.

I hope you found this article helpful, and if you have any questions about Copyright and Fair Use, don’t be afraid to consult the US Copyright Office website, which explains both in detail. The Stanford Law Libraries site for Copyright and Fair Use is another excellent source for more information.

[Update: The information in this post was accurate and up-to-date when it was created in 2015, and a lot of it still applies. Nonetheless, it’s up to you as creators to do your research and keep abreast of the changes in the laws. You can reference the links to the US Copyright office and Stanford Law Library for more details.]

Registration is Now Open!

Check out our exciting list of workshops and events!

Featured speakers for the June 25 – 28, 2015 workshop include:

Claire Eddy, Senior Editor, Tor/Forge Books

Stephen Saffel, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Titan Books

Roseanne Wells, Associate Agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Liz Coley, Guest Author

Click here to register


Getting Ready for IYWM

What exactly is the IYWM workshop?
Some people may call it a retreat, other call it a residency. We call it amazing!

The days at the IYWM Workshop are packed full with amazing modules to help you grow as a writer. You will meet many other authors, intent on polishing their craft and getting published (if they’re not already). Beyond being an incredible learning experience, you will find this to be a unique networking environment.

What can you expect at the IYWM workshop?
Head over to the website to check out the daily schedule.

This will give you a pretty good idea how days are spent at this wonderful residency.

What fun events happen at the IYWM workshop?

  • Book Signing and Expo
    • Join a number of authors for our annual book signing/expo. This event is open to the public.
  • Public Forum
    • The public is welcome to a special session by our guest speaker.
  • The Costume Ball
    • *Costumes not required to attend…but they can if they want to!
  • Fundraising Raffle
    • The WPF Alumni Committee collects donations for the Scholarship Basket Raffle that takes place at the workshop in June. All money raised in ticket sales will go to the Writing Popular Fiction Alumni Scholarship Fund. As Alumni of the WPF program, the committee values the impact story telling and writing has on our lives. The continued support of the WPF program, our fellow Alumni and the scholarship awarded makes it possible for more great works of fiction to enter our lives. This scholarship will be awarded each term to someone with financial need in their final term toward achieving a Masters of Fine Arts in writing popular fiction.
    • Tickets for the Basket Raffle will be sold in the registration office throughout the residency, as well as at the booksigning and costume ball. The drawing will be held at the Costume Ball/Wine Social. Raffle items will be available for viewing during the days prior to the raffle.

Where are some good places to eat off campus?
Smokey Bones, Panera, Chipotle, Steak N Shake, Red Robin, Lupi & Leo, Robokyo hibachi, Five Guys Burgers, Headkeepers, Turina’s pizza and subs, Oliver’s Pourhouse, Moio’s pizza

What should I bring with me when attending the workshops?

  • Notebook/laptop
  • Possibly a recorder. Really it depends on how you take notes.
  • A copy (either memorized or written down) of your elevator pitch and if your novel is finished, a synopsis, cover letter
  • Business cards (There are professionals in every workshop and although you don’t want to stalk or hassle anyone you do want to be prepared)
  • Snacks. We get breaks, but 3 hours is a long time.
  • A light jacket because rooms are either 90 degrees or 40 and not anything in between

What are these raffle baskets I keep hearing about?
Each year, In Your Write Mind Workshop conducts a raffle drawing to support and fund our scholarship for the Writing Popular Fiction MFA. Last year, we raised over $1,600! Baskets are donated from all over the world and have included items such as signed books, movie memorabilia, coffee, tea, beer, wine, glassware, Seton Hill apparel, art, jewelry, hand-crafted goods, editing services and more.

Baskets will be located at In Your Write Mind Registration and will continue to arrive throughout the weekend so check back frequently. Tickets are sold at Registration Thursday through Saturday and will also be available at the book signing and Ball (until 10pm). The drawing will be held at the ball Saturday evening and winners will be announced at 10:45 pm.

How do I sign up for pitch sessions?
After you register, you will receive an email with instructions on how you can request a pitch session time slot. Pitch sessions take place from 1-5 pm on Friday during the workshop and are based on a lottery system**. While we try our best to give you your first choice of agent/editor, you may end up with your second choice or third choice. You will receive a message with your agent/editor and time slot the week prior to the workshop.

If there are open pitch slots left in the schedule, you may sign up at registration for an additional spot. Openings at registration are on a first come, first served basis.

**You must be registered for In Your Write Mind workshop in order to secure a pitch time slot.



Craft Tips and Tricks

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker



Alumni Publications

TJ Lantz, Rise of the ( Retics ( (Rosehaven Book 1) (

What would you do if you found out you weren’t entirely human and specially trained hunters were trying to kill you? For Tyranna, a young orphan, it means moving to Rosehaven: a hidden city filled with sword-fighting squirrels, goblin assassins, and a dangerous criminal organization run by an emotionally imbalanced fairy. It might not be the safest place in the world, but when you’re Retic it’s the only place left.




In the last newsletter, there was an error in the spelling of one workshop presenter’s name. Jennifer Della Zanna was incorrectly printed as Jennifer Della.
Sorry about that, Jen.



Featured Blog Post

This could be your time to shine!
Submit your blog or become a guest blogger on the IYWM blog.


When Symantha asked our SHU writing community about adding diversity to her manuscript, I immediately thought, 1) Wow! This is someone who is being proactive and adding diverse characters to her work, and 2) How thoughtful of her to ask the writing community for advice during the process.

Believe it or not, as a writer of color myself, I would’ve done the same thing. Why? Because the default characters in my own manuscript are either black, mixed race or ethnic, but even writing from the POV of other ethnicities, I find that I still need to do some basic research.

My current WIP is an alternate Earth sci-fi/fantasy, but the characters are all based on real life cultures and religions that I don’t possess an intimate knowledge of. For example, one of my characters is Middle Eastern in appearance (dark hair and olive skin) and has some beliefs that are similar to Islam.

Now, I have friends who are Muslim, but I do not pretend to have some kind of great knowledge of the religion or customs associated with Middle Eastern cultures. Even within the Middle East, there are vast differences in language, further division within the religion of Islam, and different cultural practices, so how would I represent this character well in my fantasy world?

There are many stereotypes associated with Middle Eastern peoples, but what allowed me to steer clear of those was checking myself for what types of stereotypes about black people made me cringe. Yes, that list was long and while it didn’t match up perfectly with the stereotypes for Middle Easterners, I had something to work with.

How might I do that research, you say? Why, thank you for asking.  I’ve got a powerpoint presentation and a whole entire lesson plan to help you do that, but in the interest of helping out the Googlers of the world, I’ll share a couple of resources you can find online. For additional questions, please email me.

  • I highly recommend picking up a copy of Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s Writing the Other: A Practical Approach . This little booklet of truth is written by two workshop leaders (one black and one white) who wanted to help people write the “other.” The book goes beyond just race, but explores writing quality characters that have diverse backgrounds and are often marginalized in society like people with disabilities, people who have different sexual preferences, age, etc. There are several exercises to help you along the way too.
  • I recently stumbled upon this BuzzFeed article (yes, I went there for our millennial readers) that lists the fundamentals of writing the “other” by Latino writer of color, Daniel Jose Older. If anything, this list should empower you to write from the “other” perspective, not discourage you.

It’s easy to write what you know, but it’s more rewarding to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone and write from the perspective of someone who is unknown to you. Explore those possibilities. Maybe you’re a super religious cat lady (stereotype alert!) who wants to write from the perspective of an inner city youth. Sure it might be challenging as hell, but imagine the victory lap you’ll run when and if you finally get it right (after you test it with some trusted readers, of course).

When I hear about writers like Symantha who are concerned about how she portrays a diverse character or whether she is overthinking it, I want to reach out and give her a virtual hug and tell her that any step towards diversity is a step in the right direction. No, don’t do it because it’s a trend and you think it might sell. No, don’t do it because you think it’s the right thing to do. Do it because you feel it in your gut that diversity is needed to add layers to your world, to give your soul a good thrashing, and most importantly, to expand your skills as a writer.

I’ll close by saying that diversity in your writing is and always will be a good investment in your writing career and in the development of your craft. There is no better way to be a better writer than exploration, discovery, and challenge. I’ll leave those leaning toward staying on the well-worn path with the last stanza of Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” for inspiration and encouragement to always strive to master the craft of writing.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


In case you haven’t been paying attention over the past year, let me fill you in. There has been a rising awareness of the need for better representation of diversity in books. Just check out the WeNeedDiverseBooks site  or the Tumblr and you’ll see what I mean.

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. I spent the month of April participating in CampNanowrimo and gave myself the goal of revising my thesis manuscript.

Unlike in the real world, race doesn’t matter in my fantasy world. In my world, people only care about what caste you belong to and race has absolutely zero role in this. My two main characters belong to the middle caste and have always had physical traits that closely resembled that of Hispanics or Native Americans.

I thought I had done a good job making a diverse book.

Then I started revising and took notice of a side character. My revision came to a hard stop as I struggled with how to handle this character. This character (the best friend of my MC) is a crucial person in the plot and a badass swordsmith who can tap into magic…and I realized that when I wrote her the first time my brain defaulted her to a blond, blue-eyed, white girl. (For the record, I am not blond nor blue-eyed though I have been told that I “pass for white.” Whatever the heck that means.)

I decided to go with the idea of creating more diversity and make her look more African or Australian Aboriginal. After all, why should white be the default since skin color doesn’t matter in my world…but the caste system does, and this best friend character is a lower caste… uh oh.

Now, I was stuck on whether I should change her after all… because I just knew someone in the real world would be offended that I made the dark skinned girl and her family an inferior rank.

At this point, I did what any good writer would do. I reached out to my network of fellow writers explained my situation and asked the following three things:

1) Am I over-thinking?
2) Can the issue of how to correctly add diverse characters really be over-thought?
3) Should I leave the friend default white/blond or make her diverse?

I got the standard “reassurance” that this is my book and that no matter what I do or write someone somewhere is going to be offended.

Some people mentioned feeling the same concerns about offending people in their writings. Others supported the idea that diversity in books is always fantastic and it’s even our moral responsibility as writers to do our part to make diversity happen.

I had one suggestion to keep the character white, “othering” the white character for once.

One person approved of making the character have aboriginal physical traits… then warned to not do the Magical Negro trope.

I’d never even heard of this!

I now worried that not only would people accuse me of writing a “Black Slave” character, but they would also be offended because I wrote a “Magical Negro.” After this, I was left wondering if it was too late to go for a math degree instead of my MFA.

I was just about ready to scrap the whole manuscript.

Then I got three specific bits of advice that helped me.

Rhonda Jackson Joseph eased my worry that I was over-thinking the issue by reminding me that it’s important to have “the consciousness that says some folks should be different to give your story depth. That awareness is more than half the battle.”

Valerie Burns eased my fear about the “Magical Negro” trope, stating she “would not be offended if the [magical] swordsmith is a person of color as long as she is a badass and interesting.”

Then Danielle Hinesly suggested I watch a TEDtalk titled “The Boundaries We Choose.

If you haven’t seen this talk, you must watch it.

Suddenly, I knew what to do.

Race doesn’t matter to my characters.

I have both “white” and “diverse” characters in all the varying ranks. It doesn’t matter in the world I created.

But the need for diversity does matter in our world.

In the end, I revised my character and I feel good that I’ve made both my fantasy world and my real world a little more diverse.

I want to wrap up this post by sharing a poem I read back in high school.

Tableau by Countee Cullen

Locked arm in arm they cross the way
The black boy and the white,
The golden splendor of the day
The sable pride of night.

From lowered blinds the dark folk stare
And here the fair folk talk,
Indignant that these two should dare
In unison to walk.

Oblivious to look and word
They pass, and see no wonder
That lightning brilliant as a sword
Should blaze the path of thunder.

It is my most sincere hope that someday people will look upon diverse books and characters and “see no wonder.”


Registration is Now Open!

Featured speakers for the June 25 – 28, 2015 workshop include:

Claire Eddy, Senior Editor, Tor/Forge Books

Stephen Saffel, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Titan Books

Click here to register

Early Bird Special Weekend Registration lasts until May 1.


 Workshop Approvals
If you submitted a workshop proposal for this year’s IYWM workshop, keep on eye on your email because we will be sending out approvals very soon!


 Industry News
Amazon Refines Customer Review Process With New Ratings Options (

BuzzFeed Launches Emerging Writers Fellowship (


Free Fantasy Writing Contest in honor of Terry Pratchett 

Echo of Another World

April 7 – May 5

Found this interesting contest the other week and wanted to share it with the IYWM community. They are accepting fiction in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, up to 15,000 words. Novel excerpts are encouraged. Authors will collect community votes, and the first, second, and third winners will be chosen by the Inkitt staff from the top 10% of entries.

** 1st Place – 5 printed-and-bound copies of story with cover created by Inkitt’s designer; $40 Amazon gift card

** 2nd Place – $30 Amazon gift card

** 3rd Place – $20 Amazon gift card


For Fun!
Book Art Is Awesome: Large-Scale Installations (


Craft Tips and Tricks

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ― Neil Gaiman

How NOT to Sell Books: Top 10 Social Media Marketing No-Nos for Authors  (

24 Thoughts on Sexism, Feminism, YA, Reading, and The Publishing Industry (

Self-Published Authors: 10 Tips on How to Email an Illustrator  (


Alumni Publications

Victoria Thompson, Murder on Amsterdam Avenue (Gaslight Mystery Book 17)

Frank and Sarah put their family business on hold to investigate the death of an old family friend. As they unravel secrets that reach back to the War Between the States, they also discover that they are in the company of a very present danger…

Aubrey Gross, Between the Seams
Chase Roberts is the quintessential Good Guy. Attractive, intelligent and successful, he’s the man any woman would love to take home to Mama. Except there’s one small problem: Chase never got over his former best friend—and first love—Jolene Westwood, who broke his heart as a teen. All grown up with two thriving businesses, Chase has enough to worry about. But when Jo comes home to help take care of her grandmother, Chase finds that the heart doesn’t care one bit about timing.


 Featured Blog Post

This could be your time to shine!

Submit your blog or become a guest blogger on the IYWM blog.
Just email socialmedia.IYWM@gmail(dot)com


Workshop Proposals!

Gather up your ideas for classes for this year’s IYWM Workshop (June 25 – 28, 2015). Classes last year included “Extreme Grammar,” “Writing for Teens Who Don’t Like Reading,” and “Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult…What’s the Difference?”
Please e-mail your proposals to K. Ceres Wright with the following information:
  • Proposals for at least two classes
  • Proposed class titles
  • A 200-word summary of the content for each class
  • A 200-word biography of yourself
 Each class will last 50 minutes, so please be sure the content fits the time allotted. Also, please indicate if you have any day or time restrictions. We must also know if you have audio/visual needs for your presentation. Keep in mind that there are about 25 slots with the special guests. We try to include everyone, but spots are limited.
The deadline for proposal submissions is March 1, 2015.

For Fun!

Call For Submissions

Craft Tips and Tricks

“I don’t think there is enough respect in general for the time it takes to write consistently good fiction. Too many people think they will master writing overnight, or that they are as good as they will ever be.” Tananarive Due

On taking yourself seriously as a writer (The Writing Coach)
The Struggle To Be A Good Critic (Electric Literature)
I Heart Revisions: A Craft of Writing Post by Elizabeth Langston (Adventures In YA Publishing)
“He Said, She Said”: Is There Any Cooler Way To Show Dialog In Fiction? (IO9)
How to Write Vivid Character Descriptions: Be Invisible! (

Alumni Publications

Ann Kopchik, as Anna Zabo, CTRL Me in anthology Rules to Live By

Four intimate tales of power exchange, discipline, risks taken, and pleasures earned.

In CTRL Me, a night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove box and not the type for securing luggage.

Tonya Burrows, Broken Honor

Ice-cold and unbreakable, Travis Quinn is the HORNET team’s hard-ass. No weaknesses. Except, of course, for the accident that not only destroyed his career as a Navy SEAL, but left terrifying blanks in his memory. But Travis remembers everything about Mara Escareno–the curve of her lips, the feel of her body…and how he walked out on her suddenly six weeks ago. Mara could never resist the dangerously sexy Travis, which is probably how she ended up pregnant and disowned by her family. And now Travis’s enemies have discovered his only weakness…Mara.

K. Ceres Wright, short story “Better the Demon You Know” in March on Fictionvale

Calandra is a cyberpunk demon hunter belonging to a secret group of Catholic exorcists, but when they’re on the business end of a ruling from Vatican City, she must decide who really has her best interests at heart.

Mary DeSantis as Deanna Dee, “Critical Hit-On” (The Games of Love Book 1)

When Molly Moreau finds her long-time boyfriend with a girl dressed in cosplay, she runs home to try and live a geek-free life. Craig Lawrence lost his last girlfriend because he apparently spent too much time playing guardian to his rebellious little sister. When he meets Molly, he wants more than anything to win her heart, but will this relationship roll yet another 1? Or will it score a critical hit?

T.J. Lantz, Sir Dudley Tinklebutton and the Dragon’s Lair (The Dudley Diaries: a companion series to Rosehaven, The Hidden City- Book 1)

Sir Dudley is a shining example of true knightliness- he is always chivalrous to the ladies (provided they are young and attractive), he keeps his boots polished at all times (his squire’s job), and he never says no to a free drink (he deserves it). He has the perfect career- until one day when he steps foot in Candon, a battered village, besieged by a vicious dragon. Unable to figure a way out of the situation, Dudley soon finds himself face to face with the most deadly creature known to man.

Sherry Peters

Her debut novel “Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf” placed 1st in the 2014 Writer’s Digest Self-Published e-Book awards in the Middle Grade / YA category.

Her Science Fiction Short Story “Ashan Like Me” placed 2nd in the 2014 New England Science Fiction Association Short Story Contest.

Featured Blog Post

Anticipating the 2015
In Your Write Mind Conference


Time is drawing near. It’s time for writers of different genres to congregate at an amazing Catholic University, a dreamscape structure, situated on a hill in Greensburg Pennsylvania. This sort of thing doesn’t happen. Conferences are genre specific. Horror people get together to discuss how to scare their readers to death. Romance writers are drawn to a huge convention and I wonder if they ponder the merits of erotic and sweet.  I’m sure when science fiction writers assemble they transform their surroundings to a realm of marvel and inventiveness. Fantasy stretches reality to undiscovered dimensions hidden in the cosmos. Is there a place for the genre that chose me? Adventure sprinkled with romantic elements.

What is applicable to In Your Write Mind is not genre. It doesn’t matter if you are published and about to hit the big time, or if you are struggling to get noticed. It’s not important what your sales are; well at least for this conference. What is important is that you write, you are a writer and you identify with that tribe. You can come here and be at home, accepted, and you won’t be demoralized because your writer’s heart is filled with insecurities… (Click to read the rest!)

This could be your time to shine!
Submit your blog or become a guest blogger on the IYWM blog.

Time is drawing near. It’s time for writers of different genres to congregate at an amazing Catholic University, a dreamscape structure, situated on a hill in Greensburg Pennsylvania. This sort of thing doesn’t happen. Conferences are genre specific. Horror people get together to discuss how to scare their readers to death. Romance writers are drawn to a huge convention and I wonder if they ponder the merits of erotic and sweet.  I’m sure when science fiction writers assemble they transform their surroundings to a realm of marvel and inventiveness. Fantasy stretches reality to undiscovered dimensions hidden in the cosmos. Is there a place for the genre that chose me? Adventure sprinkled with romantic elements.

What is applicable to In Your Write Mind is not genre. It doesn’t matter if you are published and about to hit the big time, or if you are struggling to get noticed. It’s not important what your sales are; well at least for this conference. What is important is that you write, you are a writer and you identify with that tribe. You can come here and be at home, accepted, and you won’t be demoralized because your writer’s heart is filled with insecurities.

I normally arrive on campus early the first day. Others don’t usually show up until around noon. I like to get there and wander the halls, find a place to sit with what I am currently reading, and be alone to absorb the ambiance of the school. Old and haunted, it is a living, breathing organism that tells me I’m where I belong. I daydream, like any writer, and think about what it would be like if I could spend more time on campus, maybe teach. I allow my imagination to spin off in all directions. It’s story time and I think about taking notes. I should take notes, but I don’t worry about such things. I don’t want to lose the moment. I go back to reading, but I find I’m too excited to concentrate. Stories and characters float in my head. Like turbulent clouds they change shape, radiate youthful ideas, and create fresh memories. I should be cautious, guard my visions, like a schoolboy in class, but it’s not going to happen. I take out my notebook and scribble. I have a character, a story, perhaps an answer to a peculiar dilemma. It doesn’t matter. I smile to myself and take another walk. People will show up soon. If the weather is nice I will go out and sit on one of the benches or swings. More notes, more reading.

People are showing up now and they stop to talk. We catch up. Chat about things important to writers. What are you writing? Have you published? I saw your note on Facebook. Congratulations on your short story, your award, finishing that first draft. Yes, my thesis is published. I am happy, but I wish sales were better. Don’t be troubled. We will talk about that blog, that virtual tour, that review you loved.

This is why I came here, the friendships, the discussions outside of the classroom, the time with people who have my dreams, aspirations, and interests. I escape my day job, uninteresting careers, and office politics. The normality of life is good fodder, but not what I seek. I am part of this group. I am not the introverted outsider. I am not the pitiful daydreamer. I am another writer and we are working to help each other to succeed. I am home.

This is what this conference is all about. If you are not alum of the Writing Popular Fiction program it’s okay. You are welcomed here. You are part of the tribe. Yes, you are introverted and find it difficult to mingle. That’s okay because you’ll find most of us are the same. We suffer from the same maladies, but in this world the malady is essential. It provides the capacity to sit in isolation for hours and live through our characters. It’s what makes us whole and our lives worth living. We accept fellow travelers. You will fit in here. Just say hello, someone will ask what you write, ask about your current project. How did you hear about In Your Write Mind? We’re glad you’re here.

I am looking forward to Seton Hill. I know it will end before it begins. I know I will not recover for weeks. I will dream about the campus. I will reach out for inspiration. I will take new experiences and in some way I will grow from them. My writing will improve and I will find the label of writer an honor and a privilege.

Workshop Proposals!


It’s time once again to gather your ideas for classes for the In Your Write Mind Workshop (June 25–28, 2015). Classes last year included “Extreme Grammar,” “Writing for Teens Who Don’t Like Reading,” and “Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult…What’s the Difference?”
Please e-mail your proposed class titles, along with a 200-word summary of the content and a 200-word bio to K. Ceres Wright . We ask each person to submit two classes, just in case there is an overlap in classes or duplication of workshops. Each class will last 50 minutes, so please be sure the content fits the time allotted. Also, please indicate if you have any day or time restrictions. We must also know if you have audio/visual needs for your presentation. Keep in mind that there are about 25 slots with the special guests. We try to include everyone, but spots are limited.
The deadline for proposal submissions is March 1, 2015.

Industry News


For Fun!

It’s the start of a new year and a great time to set some goals!
Creating An Author Business Plan: Setting Your Goals (Fiction University)

Like comics? Struggle with putting emotion into your work? Check out this article!
What the Incredible Hulk Can Teach Us about Emotion in Fiction (Writer UnBoxed)

Check out this fun article to help you write better short stories!
5 Key Elements for Successful Short Stories (The Write Practice)

Elegy for a Dead World is a brand new video game designed to get people writing!
This epic computer game improves players creative writing (Spring Wise)

Alumni Publications


Mary DeSantis, To Forever

Short story published in Fiction Vortex, where it won the editor’s choice and reader’s choice for November 2014 and was reposted as one of the magazine’s best stories of 2014.


Dana Marton, Forced Disappearance

“When wealthy American businessman Glenn Danning goes missing in Venezuela, investigator Miranda Soto volunteers to track him down. It’s her first assignment for the Civilian Personnel Recovery Unit, but this mission is about more than salvaging the remnants of her shattered military career. Glenn was Miranda’s best friend and first lover, and she’ll do anything to save him from danger…especially since she just lost everything that mattered to her.”


Victoria Thompson, Murder in Murray Hill (Gaslight Mystery Book 16)

“Frank Malloy has never known any life other than that of a cop, but his newfound inheritance threatens his position within his department. While trying to keep both his relationship with Sarah and his fortune under wraps, he’s assigned to a new case—finding a missing young woman for her worried father, Henry Livingston.”


Melanie Card, Ward Against Disaster

“Ward de’Ath should be dead by now. Instead, he’s chasing after a soul-eating creature—that he unleashed— and is bent on stopping her before she slaughters more innocents. Fortunately, Celia Carlyle remains by his side, a nobleman’s gorgeous and deadly daughter, who is…well, dead.”


Maria V. Snyder, Shadow Study

“Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she’d survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands—and protect her relationship with Valek. Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek’s job and his life are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret—or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is—while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers. Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous… ”


Ronald Shannon, The Hedgerows of June

“It’s late June 1944. The allies have invaded Normandy and Chris Weymouth, an allied spy, has been living in a French village at the edge of the Bocage playing piano in a local cabaret at night while passing bad intelligence to the Germans. He has been expecting orders to leave at any time but is taken aback when they are delivered by a young Catholic nun named Sister Mary. Sister Mary however, is much more than her habit and wimple, she has her own secrets too. She informs Chris that he’s been ordered to help her transport four young children across the dangerous French farmland known as the hedgerows to St. Lo. Espionage, passion, intrigue, and danger surround them on all sides as they head directly into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the battle of the hedgerows!”


Tonya Burrows, Broken Honor

“Travis Quinn is not a coward—except when it comes to sweet, softhearted Mara Escareno. After spending one beautiful, intense, and completely terrifying night of passion with her during a routine bodyguard assignment, he goes into full retreat mode. He’s still reeling from the car accident that destroyed his SEAL career and left him suffering from blackouts that are threatening to end his job with HORNET, and he knows he’s not the right kind of guy for a good girl like Mara. Having lived her entire life sheltered by her overbearing stepfather, all Mara wanted from Quinn that night was a forbidden taste of freedom. What she got was a positive pregnancy test and her family’s scorn. Kicked out of her home with nowhere else to go, she tracks Quinn down to his hometown of Baltimore—and walks directly into the hands of his enemies.”

Tonya Burrows, Vision of Darkness

“Undercover DEA agent Alex Brennan doesn’t believe in the paranormal, despite the exhausting nightmares that reveal things he shouldn’t know. When sleep deprivation causes him to make a horrible mistake on the job, he is driven to find answers. Dreams guide him to a lighthouse in Three Churches, Maine, where he finds an inexplicable and comforting familiarity in the arms of the lighthouse’s beautiful keeper, Pru Maddox.”


Ann Kopchik, as Anna Zabo, CTRL Me in anthology Rules to Live By

“A night out between friends turns hot and tempting when Gabe deliberately pushes Tom’s submissive buttons. Then Tom discovers rope in Gabe’s glove-box—and not the type for securing luggage.”


Meg Mims, Home for the Holidays

“Jodie Watson’s in the animal rescue business — with her best friend Phil. Their non-profit organization, Fur and Feathers, is teetering on the brink of disaster, with trouble from the city condemning their rented building. They soon have a worse fight on their hands, though, when donation money goes missing. Will their blossoming romance turn sour? Or can they work some Christmas magic to survive and find a new home for the holidays for their precious rescues?”


Cody Langille as C.R. Langille, Joe Borrelli as Justin Bailey, Daniel K. Godard as Viktor Demors, and Nick B, short stories in Old Scratch and Owl Hoots: A Collection of Utah Horror

“The West has always been a symbol of the wild frontier, rugged adventure, and dangerous exploration. However, if it wasn’t for fear of the unknown, the West would just be another cardinal direction. Old Scratch and Owl Hoots delves into that fear and captures it in fourteen tales of terror set in the West ranging from the 1800s to the present day.”


Sally Bosco, Double Crush

“What would you do if you inadvertently developed crushes on both a guy and a girl while working on a summer film shoot? That’s what happens to seventeen-year-old Piper Handy. Will she take the more accepted path and go out with Evan? Or will she follow her heart and begin a relationship with Mia? In the process of trying to decide, Piper comes to learn some surprising lessons about herself.”

Sally Bosco, Cevin’s Deadly Sin

“Cevin’s worst nightmare comes true when he and his mom move to a small Florida town where high fashion is a flannel shirt with the sleeves chopped off, and the only entertainment is the Friday night football games. Cevin wants nothing more than to blend in and get through the year so he can graduate and leave Tilapia forever. When he meets Tessa, an introverted Goth girl, his plans to “not have a life” are forever ruined. She’s friendly to him, and he’s at first suspicious, but her poetic nature draws her to him, and he starts to believe she might be the only one who can accept him for what he is … if he could just get up the nerve to tell her about his cross-dressing.”


Susan Bradley, as S.X. Bradley, Uncovered

“Last year sixteen-year-old Autumn solved her sister’s murder. This year, she is part of a high school forensic dream team that assists the police when teens are kidnapped. When it’s discovered the kidnappings are part of a secret online survivor game, the police and team focus on the game maker—the man behind the game. The focus of the investigation shifts when Autumn is singled out and becomes the target of the Game Maker’s sick game. Through encrypted messages hidden in steganographs, Autumn must discover who the last kidnapping victim is if she hopes to save him in time.”


John Dixon, Phoenix Island

“A champion boxer with a sharp hook and a short temper, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman has been shuffled from foster home to foster home. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble—using his fists to defend weaker classmates from bullies. His latest incident sends his opponent to the emergency room, and now the court is sending Carl to the worst place on earth: Phoenix Island ”

John Dixon, Devil’s Pocket

“With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he’ll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he’ll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face…and possibly a way out.”

John Dixon, as Bill Braddock, Brew

“A novel of survival horror that unfolds in a single, apocalyptic night, when hard-partying College Heights swaps beer pong and karaoke for arson, murder, and cannibalism. An embattled cast of unlikely heroes, including a charismatic drug dealer, a disenfranchised army vet, and a smart, tough-as-leather girl, struggles to survive, while Herbert Weston, the brilliant sociopath who engineered the entire catastrophe, strolls the chaos, fulfilling sadistic fantasies.”


April Serock sold three stories to Woman’s World magazine. “Sweet Treat” published August 2014, “For You” January 2015, and “Something Sweet” in February 2015.


Featured Blog Post

This could be your time to shine!
Submit your blog or become a guest blogger on the IYWM blog.
Email us for info!



The IYWM website is celebrating a grand re-opening! The site has undergone a major transformation. With a brand new navigation menu, updated workshop information, a living blog, and the feature that was most asked for.. that’s right, we now have forums. Head over and check out the brand new IYWM site! (

Industry News

Dear #e-book #reader: your 99c deal hunting is seriously hurting #authors (
BBC National Short Story Award 2015 opens for submissions ( (Booktrust)
Read whatever the hell you want ( – A new way to talk of YA (New Statesman)
Books Being Made Into Movies In 2015 ( (IBT)
Durham to leave Amazon Publishing in the US ( (The Bookseller)

For Fun!

Top 10 Medieval Places That Don’t Exist  (
Yoga for Writers (Electric Literature)
Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Book Lovers Edition (Nerdist)
Bookish Stocking Stuffers: Lit Socks (Bookriot)

Recommended Books

Another Nanowrimo has come and gone. Now the real work begins… REVISION!
Here are some books to help you along this path.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print
Word Painting Revised Edition: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively
The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences
Descriptionary: A Thematic Dictionary 

New and Upcoming Publications

Lawrence C. Connolly, Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle
Patricia B. Tighe, Life in the No-Dating Zone
Tonya Burrows, Vision of Darkness
Nicole Taft, Terpsichore’s Daughter
Sally Bosco, Double Crush

Fictionvale Episode 5: Of Magic and Mayhem
Fantasy For Good: A Charitable Anthology

Craft Tips and Tricks

“I don’t think there is enough respect in general for the time it takes to write consistently good fiction. Too many people think they will master writing overnight, or that they are as good as they will ever be.” —Tananarive Due

10 Lessons From Real-Life Revolutions That Fictional Dystopias Ignore (Io9)
How to Kill Adverbs and Adjectives
How to motivate yourself as a writer (
Things you should know when writing about guns (

Hotel Group Rate

The Courtyard by Marriott in Greensburg is offering a special group discount during the event. This year the Marriott is offering a complimentary breakfast of Bagels, Muffins, Fruit & Juice, Happy Hour Specials and Shuttle Service to Seton Hill.
To reserve a room at the group discount ($119), contact the Sales Office at the Marriott.

Megan @ 724-205-7034
Jen @

“The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It’s the lack of a deadline. Give someone an enormous task, a supportive community, and a friendly-yet-firm due date, and miracles will happen.” 

― Chris Baty (Founder of Nanowrimo)


November is National Novel Writing Month! It’s a wonderful time to challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in 30 days. We here at In Your Write Mind want to offer you some helpful tips as you get ready to forgo sanity and plunge into the creative chaos that is Nanowrimo ( !



 “A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.”

― Chris Baty (Founder of Nanowrimo)


Recommended Books



“Rereading parts of your novel while writing is like doubling back at rerunning parts of a marathon midrace.” 

― Chris Baty (Founder of Nanowrimo)



Tuesday, November 4th at 6 AM PST

IYWM Communications Officer Symantha will be hosting an on-line Google+ Hangout write-in via the Seton Hil Writing Popular Fiction Google+ group. Everyone is welcome to participate via Google+!

Thursday, October 16 at 3 PM PST

The Office of Letters and Lights (@Nanowrimo) will be hosting a #NaNoPrep tweet-chat with author Scott Westerfeld.

Don’t forget to log-on to and check out what events will be happening in your local region!


“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”

Chris Baty (Founder of Nanowrimo)


Technology for Writers!

  • Want to make a custom daily word-count plan? Check out Pacemaker.
  • Need some “encouragement” to keep writing? Write or Die 2 is the tool for you. Choose Consequences or rewards, web or desktop.
  • Tired of distractions? OmmWriter for desktop and iPad will create a soothing destraction free writing enviornment.
  • Need help organizing your thoughts and plots? Try downloading Mindly for iPhone and iPad.


“Today’s tangents will become tomorrow’s arcs, and unforeseen connections will tie up your loose ends in a way that will make you want to slap your head and holler at your accidental brilliance.” 

― Chris Baty (Founder of Nanowrimo)