Today meet local author/speaker/columnist Morgan St. James, co-author of the funny Silver Sisters Mysteries and many other books, from 2:30 to 4:30 at Paseo Verde Library, 2797 North Green Valley Parkway, Henderson, NV.
The READ Local Author Series features an author from the Henderson/Las Vegas community on the fourth Monday of each month in the Library Lobby to meet and greet readers. St. James will have books available for purchase and signing.
With six published novels and two scheduled for release in 2012, over 300 published articles related to writing, multiple short stories including contributions to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, Morgan St. James has been a very active member of the Las Vegas area writers’ community since 2005. She frequently appears as a speaker, panel member or workshop presenter at writers’ groups, conferences and guest blogger on other writer’s blogs.
The former interior designer, who splits time between residences in Southern Highlands in Las Vegas and Marina Del Rey CA, says she has reinvented herself so many times during her life she has lost track of all the professions, but found her true passion with writing. She had previously written many magazine and newspaper articles, but in the late 90s she and her sister, Phyllice Bradner, also a published writer, ventured into writing fiction.
They thought their first Silver Sisters novel would be an easy sell, but instead found out how much they didn’t know about writing fiction. During the time she was an interior designer, she discovered writing by accident and became a magazine writer. It’s a funny story and when you stop by the library today to chat with her, she’ll be happy to tell you all about it.
The 2005 Las Vegas Writers Conference represented a turning point for her. Having registered to pitch a book and “learn the ropes,” it was the first writers’ conference she had ever gone to and it changed the way she writes. The book was A Corpse in the Soup, the debut comical crime caper in the riotous award-winning Silver Sisters Mysteries series that she and Phyllice write together. She may not have gotten an agent or publisher at that conference, but she did learn some of the most important skills a writer can learn. The workshop with the most impact was about the art of the machete edit.
“That workshop changed the way I write. It was as though a door opened and I saw how critical it is to “write tight,” cut out the deadwood and keep the story moving. I don’t know how long it would have taken to get published if I hadn’t stumbled into the Machete Editing workshop.”
She convinced her sister Phyllice they needed to do a ruthless edit. The result was not only getting a publisher, but A Corpse in the Soup was named Best Audio Mystery Book 2007 by USA Book News and launched a prolific writing career. St. James tells aspiring authors, “It’s never too late. I was 66 when that first book came out, and look what it led to.”
There are now three books in the Silver Sisters series with a fourth in work, her latest short story anthology, The MAFIA FUNERAL and Other Short Stories, was released last month, she wrote Devil’s Dance and The Devil’s Due as Arliss Adams, numerous published short stories, two columns each week in both the Las Vegas and Los Angeles editions of modenook.com, the monthly Writers’ Tricks of the Trade E-Zine, many talks and workshops over the years, and an upcoming series of four webinars March 6-27 for SavvyAuthors.com. Whether in the paperback or electronic edition, her book, Writers’ Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing Fiction has been hailed as a book fiction writers should have on their shelf.
All of this in six short years. She is always ready to help or to promote other writers and share knowledge and encouragement.
Morgan St. James writes the Spotlight feature on Tuesday in the Las Vegas edition and Wednesday in the Los Angeles edition. Read Writers’ Tricks of the Trade on Wednesday in Las Vegas and Thursday in Los Angeles.