Announcing a Reading with Susie Finkbeiner

Attendees of the Jot Conference will recognize Susie Finkbeiner. She’s worked the registration table and faithfully attended the conference for years. But in addition to being a wonderful helper and friend of Jot, Susie is a published author.

Her most recent book, A Cup of Dust, is a novel set in the midst of the dust bowl.

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

Susie will be reading a chapter from A Cup of Dust at the Jot Conference on Friday, September 9th at Baker Book House, 2768 East Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Please join us!

10 Reasons to Attend The Next Jot

jot_logoJot is a week and a half away! I hope you have signed up HERE to claim your seat.

As we’ve moved locations, I’d like to offer you 10 reason to make the trip a hour and fifteen minutes south.Jot will be small and intimate this year.

  1. Jot will be small and intimate this year. If you wanted to connect with other writers, this would provide an excellent opportunity.
  2. A change of pace can shake us out of our comfort zones. This provides a new venue and a tremendous atmosphere.
  3. You’ll get home late, probably around midnight. This might seem like a reason not to come. I get it. But if you refer to number two, this makes sense. A drive at midnight when the moon is high and the air is crisp. Sounds inspiring doesn’t it?
  4. You get to explore one of the best use book collections in the region. Endless books in an old store font in a quaint downtown.
  5. Three Rivers has several parks. If you come early you can head out the back of the bookstore, cut across a parking lot, and cross a bridge to an Island. Across the street is another and in between a coffee shop.
  6. If you like to hunt for antiques or shop fair trade. There are several stores downtown that will satisfy this itch.
  7. It can be a getaway. You could head down for an early breakfast, peruse the shops, grab lunch, check out the free bind at Lowry’s or buy a book, get coffee, sit under a tree near the river to read, take a nap, eat dinner, and then enjoy a writers conference. What more could you ask for in a relaxing day?
  8. You’ll hear great content capped by an interview from the editor of a literary magazine.
  9. You get to hear great content for free. Enough said.
  10. You’ll meet other aspiring writers. Collaboration is the key to survival in the writing life. Jot would not be possible without it. Be bold and say hello. You might find a writer friend that will last years.

What Do You Love Most About Jot?

Jot is roughly two weeks away! (September 12th 6-10PM in Three Rivers, MI) Our free one night writers conference will feature – journal editors, acquisition editors, bloggers, poets, poetry editors, marketers, novelists, flash fiction writers, and you!

We’re thrilled about meeting with other writers both new and familiar and sharing the love we have about the written word.

Jot is and will always be about you, the attendee. If you’ve been to a Jot conference before, would you take a moment and answer one of the questions below in the comments section? This will help new Jot attendees get to know the event before it begins.

Click here to register and claim your seat.

Thank you and we hope to see you in a few weeks!

Have you been to Jot before? What was your experience?

What do you love most about the Jot Conference?

Did a speaker or workshop help you in anyway? Tell us how!

What have you learned from Jot?

How did you hear about Jot?

What success have you experienced since attending Jot?

Jot is Moving to Three Rivers!

For the past two weeks I promised there would be an update about the fall installment of Jot. It says it all in the title, but we are headed out of Grand Rapids.

First, we should note that the plan is to head back to Baker Book House in the spring. We love Baker. It provides a tremendous environment for the Jot Conference. This change is because we were approached (and had been thinking about holding a conference elsewhere to get to know more Michigan writers) not because we were dissatisfied with anything Baker has done.

So why move?

Conferences, just like writers, need to grow. They need to stretch and try new things. Part of the move to Three Rivers, Michigan is because we’ll have the opportunity to connect with other writers and hold a conference in one of the best used/rare/independent bookstores in the state. It is also the first place that I, Bob Evenhouse, fell in love with reading and dreamed about writing someday. In part, it’s responsible for the Weaklings and the Jot Conference.

I know what some of you are thinking. How far away is it? When is it? Does it cost money now? Why should I make the drive? Your head is swimming. We’ll address some of these questions below. We are always open to feed back here or on our Facebook page.

Where is Three Rivers?

If you head on US 131 South, you’ll run right into it. Once on 131, you’ll turn on about three roads. So if you are directionally challenged, fear not! The address is Lowry’s Books, 22 North Main Street, Three Rivers, MI 49093 and it’s exactly a one hour seventeen minute drive from Baker to Lowry’s.

When is it?

Saturday, September 12th, from 6-10PM. This will give you the morning and afternoon to explore the quaint downtown and get lost in the bookstore.

Why should you make the trip?

For the same reasons we are. One, it’s still Jot, a free one night writers conference. Three Rivers harbors a quaint down town with many shops to explore. There are coffee shops, fair trade stores, and hidden-gem restaurants. Looking for a writer’s day? This is the perfect opportunity.

What is Lowry’s Books and More?

Lowry’s is amazing. I almost wrote that I “could spend hours there” but I’ll be honest. I do spend hours there. When my wife and I leave my kids with my parents and say we’ll be back in thirty minutes, they know that means three hours. I swear there’s a wormhole that opens up and sucks you in. The bookstore has literally hundreds of thousands of books. I’ll post pictures and a video soon, but it reminds me of the wand shop in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just to give you a visual – endless piles of books to be explored.

So we implore you to join us. As writers we know the importance of time. But we also know the importance of a new adventure, new opportunities, and the thrill and energy they can bring to your work.

Hope to see you there.

One Key Method To Finishing Drafts On Time

Ever have one of those days where a meeting creeps up on you? Or maybe you have a test and completely forgot? We all have.

Occasionally, I have this same feeling with writing. I open my word document and prepare to write and am shocked by the word count I find. Wait, I have how many words? Oh no. I think back through the week and realize I am way off track of my goal for a present draft.

I work in sales and I have to balance a lot of goals to meet corporate objectives. I’m a cog of the machine and if I do not perform we miss twenty percent of our potential. A lot rides on my foresight.

I don’t say this because I want you all to know that I am great at hitting goals but that I’ve had to grow to be aware of them over the last decade. It’d been foolish if I checked in on day one and then the last day of the month. I need to be aware of the pulse of everyday.

Calendar SwedishThis can be true for our writing too, especially if you have many obligations in your daily life to keep balanced. This is why I have set a reminder in my calendar to go off once a week that says – where are you compared to where you need to be at the end of this month?

It helps me keep perspective and change tactics if I am falling behind. Sometimes, I can relax a bit and settle into a pace. More than not, however, I need to start working harder.

If you have the sudden word count panic I wrote about above, maybe it’s time to set reminders throughout the month to keep track of your word count, blog, journal, or article goals? We’ll talk more about goal setting in the next post, but knowing where you are at today will help you build to where you want to go.

Write well. And write smart.

Writer, Have You Lost Your Motivation? Chad Allen Is Here To Help!

Jot the GR Writers Mini-Conference is THIS Friday. Have you called that writer friend you know to invite them? You’ve got a sitter for the kids, right? You’ve remembered to request the night off of work? Good. Well done. It is going to be amazing.

Since we’re talking about amazing, Chad Allen, Editorial Director at Baker Books, is speaking at Jot. He’s here to encourage us as we chase our writing dreams.

Chad’s topic in a nutshell:

You Can Do This: An Editor’s Manifesto: How to Stay Motivated and Keep Moving toward Publication

The road to getting published can be tough. How can you improve your writing, build your platform, hold down a day job, and still have a life? What practices can writers use to find their voice and produce their best work? In this presentation editor Chad R. Allen shares strategies to help writers be successful over the long run.

I’ve asked Chad a little bit about himself and what advice he might have for the budding author.


1. Chad, I’ve read your book and follow your website. Explain why you decided to take up blogging and speaking. Where does that passion come from and how do you keep that energy every day?

I started the blog because I feel a deep calling to this work of helping creatives do their best work. This call is both the source and the sustenance for the whole shebang. Of course I’m as much the audience for the blog as I am the blogger! In so many ways I’m just a fellow beggar looking for bread. The blog at its best is a place where creatives can walk with and learn from each other.

2. I assume most of the attendees at Jot are serious about writing. It is more than a hobby and there is a desire to turn it into a career. What actions should the pre-published author be doing right now that would help them get noticed by an agent or publishing house?

Three things: Build your platform. Get better and better at writing. And stay on the lookout for a great book concept. The good news is that you can do all three at the same time by blogging.

3. Every writer has their unique style. It can be difficult to find your own voice. What are some practical ways a young writer can begin to draw that out?

Such a good question. I tend to think finding one’s voice starts with finding one’s muses—models out there whom we want to emulate in some way. Austin Kleon has this great two-column list that spells out the difference between good creative theft and bad creative theft. It’s worth Googling. One of his ideas is that good theft is stealing from many whereas bad theft is stealing from one. The more we expose ourselves to and learn from work we love, the more we’ll be able to riff off it and do our own thing.

4. Editing and refining can be an arduous task. After finishing a draft, what steps do you suggest a writer should take to produce a more polished second draft?

Show your first draft to lots of people and ask for input. Pay them if you have to. That’s what I did with Do Your Art. Honestly some of the feedback wasn’t that helpful, but some of it was absolutely priceless. Some of that priceless input came from a friend who gave it to me freely. Other pieces of it came from a freelance editor I hired.

5. Writers can burn out easily. Either their support group dwindles or life gets in the way. What are some tips to help the pre-published writer to stay motivated and refill their creative well?

Come to the JOT conference! This is a subject about which I’m passionate because I hear from discouraged writers regularly. The creative road is a tough one, but we can navigate it with the right practices in place. We need to be in touch with the why behind what we’re doing. We need to fall in love with the process of our art (the one thing we can control). We must have the support of other people. And we need to get serious about our calendars. I’ll be talking more about these areas in my presentation. I really hope it’s helpful to people, and I’m grateful to you and Josh for inviting me.

If you’d like to know more about Chad visit his blog ( You can also connect with him on Facebook ChadRAllen or follow him on Twitter @ChadRAllen

Thank you Chad and see you all Friday!

The Jot Conference returns on Friday, September 13th, 2013!

megaphoneYou read it correctly. We’ll be having another JOT: GR Writers Mini-Conference on Friday, September 13th, 2013. We’re working on the outline for the evening now and will be posting updates here as we get things finalized. Here’s what is set in stone:

When: Friday, September 13th, 2013 at 7pm

Where: Baker Book House

What: We’ll be focusing on the same three key goals we focused on for the first JOT conference – Meet. Learn. Write.

Our first goal is to provide writers with an time to meet each other and strengthen the Grand Rapids literary scene through a fun community event.
Our second goal is to provide excellent content for writers to learn something about the craft or the industry.
Our third goal is provide busy writers with space and time to actually write and not just talk about it. We’re all busy, but by attending JOT you are insured some quality writing time in a beautiful local book store.

Cost: Totally FREE.

Who: For sure The Weaklings will be there (Josh, Matt, Bob, and Andy) along with some friends in the publishing industry and writing community. More to come!

We’ve got a lot planned for JOT this September. Watch this space, and our Facebook page, for updates. We’ll be posting them as we’ve got them. Hope to see you there!

Keep writing!

-Andy Rogers