January 18—ORWIGSBURG—Writers and readers alike are invited to participate in an in-depth writing workshop led by local author JA Stine.
The workshop, open to anyone age 12 and older, will be from 1-3 pm on February 11 at the Orwigsburg Area Free Public Library.
Instead of honing writing techniques or the craft, Stein said, the class will focus on the art of writing fiction.
The main goal of the class is to demonstrate how writers can use their skills and resources to create novel-length manuscripts.
“I want to get into the process of how to take those writing skills and develop them into a full novel, and how to bring that novel out into the world,” Stein said.
She will open the session with a presentation of approximately one hour, which will cover topics such as brainstorming; write a manuscript; edition; and the publication process.
Then the participants will have the opportunity to divide into groups and discuss their ideas among themselves.
Stein, a lifelong resident of Orwigsburg, is the author of the new novel “Knightess,” a historical adventure story with romantic elements.
Because the novel was self-published, Stein said, a large part of his presentation will focus on comparing traditional publishing to self-publishing, followed by a more detailed segment on self-publishing itself.
“(Self-publishing) is what most people writing right now are doing,” Stein said. “Self-publishing is much more accessible now than it was 5 or 10 years ago, and there are pros and cons to both. So, we’ll talk a little bit about that and some of the pitfalls to watch out for. I’ve learned.”
Depending on how the class goes, Stein said, she’s open to holding additional workshops.
As an author, Stein believes it’s important for writers to share their work with other readers.
When working on a manuscript, he said, writers often become engrossed in their stories and don’t think to add embellishments or clarifications that might seem obvious to another reader.
While the editing process can be done in any setting, Stine said, it’s ideal to correspond in person with someone of a “comparable level” whom the writer knows personally.
“You need other eyes on him,” Stein said.
Other important things to consider when self-publishing, he said, include out-of-pocket costs, finding a publisher, choosing printing, marketing and distribution options.
“I’m still learning the marketing process,” Stein said. “Probably the biggest challenge facing any author is marketing right now. Even the big publishers are up against that…
“That’s why we have to talk a little bit about what’s involved, and budget-wise, what to realistically expect with your work, because that’s a factor for people who want to go the self-publishing route.”
Stein said she chose to self-publish her novel because she felt it didn’t fit into a specific genre or category.
“There are so many elements to it that a lot of publishers would probably balk at it,” he said. “Publishers are looking for very specific things right now.”
Orwigsburg’s Connie Glunz said the decision bodes well for Stein, as she believes the book has many themes that might not have materialized had the novel been overseen by a publisher.
“When someone is able to jump through the hoops of self-publishing, they’re giving people a chance to truly judge what books they enjoy and learn from,” Glunz said.
Stein said the workshop will focus on the writing and publishing process rather than discussing her novel.
To register for the class, visit the Orwigsburg Area Free Public Library or email [email protected] by February 9.
During the second half of the workshop, people will have the opportunity to collaborate and discuss their work with other workshop participants.
“My goal is for people to walk away with at least one friend they can write with and still share their work with,” Stein said.
Since its publication in September, “Knightess” has received rave reviews from readers, including local friends and acquaintances of Stein’s.
Set in the 12th century, the novel follows a woman named Eleanor, or Lady Eleanor de Levan, whose “knightly” status has been discovered and who must fight to regain her identity. It is the first book in a planned trilogy revolving around Eleanor.
“This book is amazing in its complexity,” Glunz said. “It speaks to our resilience as a people to overcome trauma, but beyond that, the passion that goes into finding our purpose and fulfilling it, the passion to find true love.”
Cathy Shiner of Pine Grove called the book “fun” and she looks forward to reading more of the author’s work.
Stein began working on “Knightess” about 20 years ago, when he was in high school.
Although she was eager to hear what people would say about the finished book, she said the response, so far, has been positive.
She credits local readers, including the librarians at the Orwigsburg Library, for supporting and spreading the word about her novel.
The library “pushed my book into the library’s monthly book club, which has not only given me my fan base, but also a huge confidence boost,” Stein said.
A sequel, “Lady of the Tournament,” will be released in the spring. Stein said that the book has many similarities to the first, including prominent plot twists and a romance line, noting that it is more cohesive than the first book.
Stein is currently writing her third novel, which is yet to be titled.
A “Lady of the Tournament” launch party is planned for April 1 at Stone Mountain Winery near Pine Grove. Stein will also hold a book signing on April 15 at Cupboard Maker Books, a used bookstore in Enola.
“Knightess” is currently available on Amazon in physical and eBook formats. Locally, it is on sale at Market Square Coffee House in Orwigsburg and Wanamakers General Store in Kempton, and Stein is working to get the novel into bookstores.
Contact the writer: [email protected]; 570-628-6085