by Dave Rosenberg

This is the  story of what leaky pipes made me realize about writing. It started when the water line to my refrigerator developed a pinhole leak. I cut the pipe, removed the piece with the pinhole and was left with the task of figuring out how to rejoin the two pieces of pipe without leakage. First I spent some time online trying to see what products Home Depot had to help me out. But not having a clear sense of what was required, I was quickly confused. So I called Home Depot for advice and, after being on hold for 20 minutes, I was transferred to the plumbing department where my call was promptly dropped. Next, I went to Ace Hardware where the very nice, but ultimately incompetent, salesman sold me $18 of stuff which turned out to be completely irrelevant.

Fortunately, unlike me, my dear wife actually has a brain. She did something really old fashioned, but amazingly effective: she looked up "plumbing supply" in the phone book. Lo and behold, she found Tanaka Hardware in Lihue which specializes in plumbing. I called, described my problem and was told that they had the solution. I was advised to bring the scrap of pipe and they'd show me what to do. So I hopped in my car, pipe segment in hand, and headed to Lihue.

Tanaka Hardware is a small, 100-year-old family-owned store on a side street. It is a maze of floor-to-ceiling shelving units filled with stuff for plumbing and all manner of other repairs. I walked up to the sales clerk and showed him my pipe scrap.

"That's high pressure pipe you got there, brother. That for an ice maker?" Before I could answer, he said "follow me" and guided me through the maze to a rack filled with a surprising array of devices for joining pipes. He looked around for the correct compression fitting and the accompanying stents and plastic collars, then he led me back to the counter and showed me how to use the material. Five dollars and eighty-eight cents later, I was on my way home with the parts and knowledge required to repair the split pipe. 

When I got home to make the repair, I successfully attached the compression fitting and rejoined the severed pipes, but in moving them around I unknowingly dislodged another pipe. When I turned the water back on, a gusher quickly covered most of the kitchen floor. Furthermore, the gusher carried away the little clip that had held the dislodged pipe in place and I could not find it. Nothing I did could reattach the pipe despite scratching the bejeezus out of my arm as I reached a great distance under the fridge (a nasty place) in the futile attempt. The water just kept rising in depth on my kitchen floor. I knew I had to call in a pro.

Of course, being a writer, I couldn't help but think about the story elements in this simple tale. There's the battle for survival of a small, venerable, family-owned hardware store against the big-box Goliaths. There's the experienced and skilled clerk whose kindness and abilities go largely unseen in the cold, modern world.  There's the way our modern "conveniences" (cell phones, big box stores, voicemail systems, and the online ability to check what's in stock) over-complicate what should be simple problems to solve. There's the way that modern life limits our ability to develop the basic repair skills and knowledge that we need to survive in our own homes. And of course, there's the incompetent guy who keeps getting himself into deeper and deeper doodoo in a vain attempt to save money. It is the stuff of social drama, social commentary, and character development.

My sad tale led me to another writerly reflection, as well. Just as I realized that I was (quite literally) out of my depth and finally caved in and called the Sears repair service, we writers have to know when it is time to stop trying to go it alone. We all need help, whether in the form of feedback from peers or the paid expertise of a professional editor. No book can be successful without the help of many others. In fact, sometimes, we just need the input of a pro who really knows what he or she is doing. That's why it can be so important to attend a writers conference. So I hope you'll avail yourself of the opportunities provided by the Kauai Writers Festival in 2106 to access the expertise of top authors, literary agents, publishing experts and, of course, your very talented peers.
by Jonathan Maberry

I wasn’t always a novelist. Sure, it’s what I do now and it’s my day job. I write, on average, four novels a year in different genre, and I write comics and short stories. But I spent the first twenty-eight years of my writing career focusing entirely on nonfiction. Feature articles on a range of subjects from karate to gift-wrapping to sky-diving. I wrote college textbooks and mass-market how-to books. I wrote product instructions, medical industry call-floor scripts, and training manuals for SWAT and special forces.
Then I decided…what the heck, let’s try fiction.
Mind you, I’d never taken a creative writing class. Not one. I studied journalism in college. So, having the desire to write fiction didn’t instantly transform me into a novelist. And even though I’d always read a lot of fiction that’s not the same as knowing how it’s done. I travel on airplanes a lot but I can’t fly one.
So I had to figure out how to do it. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Of course it’s not.
My approach to learning the craft of writing fiction was similar to the way I did research for my nonfiction books and articles. I made a particular study of the form and its components. I read books on writing, like Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful Writing Down the Bones and the absolutely brilliant Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass (who has since become a close friend). I learned what the elements were that made up a book. That was part one.

Part two, for me, was to select some excellent books in the genre I planned to try. I wanted to write an American gothic horror novel set in small-town America. So I grabbed copies of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, Robert McCammon’s Mystery Walk, and a few others. I’d read each of these books before but I re-read them several more times. First as a reader, and then repeatedly as a writer. I deconstructed them to look for those elements of craft. I studied the balance of narrative and dialogue; the ways in which POV shifts in an ensemble cast; how figurative and descriptive language was used in different kinds of scenes; pace and action; the benefits of limited and omniscient points of view, and the subtle variations of each. And so on. I leaned close to study the carpentry.
I didn’t do this because I wanted to imitate the style of Stephen King or any of the others. If anything my process was to make sure that I learned elements of craft from them but made absolutely sure that I wasn’t doing any kind of imitation. It’s all about emulation of technical skill without imitation of individual style.
It took me three and a half years to write my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES. That included studying the craftsmanship, writing that ugly and overlong first draft, and eighteen layers of revision. The result was a horror novel that appealed to me. It was exactly the kind of book I would go out and buy. And this was the point.
The downside was that in the writing and editing it became very clear to me that I was writing something that could never be contained in one volume. I futzed with it and after finishing the first volume, I decided that there had to be two more volumes to tell the story I wanted to tell. A trilogy. This was 2004. Horror trilogies were a non-existent thing.
Did I expect it to sell? No, not really. But I’d put everything I had into it. Heart and mind, passion and imagination, love and care. If it never sold, then at least I’d stretched myself as a writer and learned new skills.
Finding an agent was tricky –because that’s always tricky. I figured it out, though, and how I did is a story for another time. I wound up landing a young agent, Sara Crowe, who was working for Trident Media. Big agency. Sara, I should note, is no fan of horror fiction. She liked the writing (not the subject matter) and she liked the fact that I approached this with solid business savvy. She took a flyer on my potential more so than the book.
Sara shopped the book. Random House almost bought it, but ultimately passed because they didn’t think a horror trilogy would sell.
Two weeks later Pinnacle Books (an imprint of Kensington) bough it because they thought a horror trilogy would sell. Go figure.
Ghost Road Blues sold well as a mass-market paperback and went on to win the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. And my fiction career transformed from ‘let me try this to see if I can do it’ to ‘this is what I do’.
In 2016 Pinnacle will release special 10th Anniversary Editions of Ghost Road Blues and its sequels. And at this writing I am beginning work on my 25th novel. Two of my books are in development for TV, another is being made into a film. And I’ve hit the NY Times bestseller list several times. All because I wanted to try something I’d never done before.
Funny what happens when you try something new.
Our conference faculty continues to attract stars.  I'm happy to announce two major additions: five-time Bram Stoker Award Winner Jonathan Maberrry and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, Jeff Kleinman.
Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries. He writes the Joe Ledger thrillers, the Rot & Ruin series, the Nightsiders series, the Dead of Night series, as well as standalone novels. His comic book works include CAPTAIN AMERICA, MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE AVENGERS, BAD BLOOD, ROT & RUIN, V-WARS, and others. He is the editor of many anthologies including THE X-FILES, SCARY OUT THERE, OUT OF TUNE, and V-WARS. His books EXTINCTION MACHINE and V-WARS are in development for TV, and ROT & RUIN is in development as a series of feature films. A board game version of V-WARS will be released this Christmas. He is the founder of the Writers Coffeehouse, a nationwide series of free networking programs for writers of all genres, and is the co-founder of The Liars Club. Prior to becoming a full-time novelist, Jonathan sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, how-to manuals, song lyrics and poetry. He was a featured expert on the History Channel documentary, Zombies: A Living History and will be a featured in a new cable TV documentary series on monsters in mythology and urban legend. Jonathan lives in Del Mar, California with his wife, Sara Jo.

Jeff Kleinman is a literary agent, intellectual property attorney, and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC, a New York literary agency which works with all of the major U.S. publishers (and, through subagents, with most international publishers).  He’s a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (J.D.), the University of Chicago (M.A., Italian), and the University of Virginia (B.A. with High Distinction in English).  As an agent, Jeff feels privileged to have the chance to learn an incredibly variety of new subjects, meet an extraordinary range of people, and feel, at the end of the day, that he’s helped to build something – a wonderful book, perhaps, or an author’s career.  His authors include the New York Times bestsellers The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Snow Child (a Pulitzer finalist; Eowyn Ivey), Widow of the South (Robert Hicks), and Mockingbird (Charles Shields), among other books.

Nonfiction: especially narrative nonfiction with a historical bent, but also memoir, health, parenting, aging, nature, pets, how-to, nature, science, politics, military, espionage, equestrian, biography.

Fiction: very well-written, character-driven novels; some suspense, thrillers; otherwise mainstream upmarket commercial (i.e. book club) and literary fiction. 

No: children’s, romance, mysteries, westerns, poetry, or screenplays, novels about serial killers, suicide, or children in peril (kidnapped, killed, raped, etc.).

Learn more about Jeff: