The Working Writer

Living the writing life: resources and inspiration


Follow our blog, The Working Writer, for bite-sized helpings of observations and ideas.

Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter for news and event notices.


The writing craft

Writer’s Digest

Poets & Writers


What you need to know about publishing

Jane Friedman on book publishing

Preditors & Editors


For women

Women Writing the West

National League of American Pen Women


In Texas

Abilene Writers’ Guild

Caprock Writers’ Alliance (download our Interest Survey here)

Lone Star Literary Life

Panhandle Professional Writers Association


Other writers’ groups in Texas


Independent bookstores in Texas


Lubbock Book Festival

Texas Book Festival

West Texas Book Festival





Download useful resources on editing, revision, readings, and other practical matters here

Barbara’s Book Marketing Road MAPPS

Book promotion & marketing plan checklist  • download here (Word file with tables)

October 12-12, 2019

Women Writing the West, San Antonio

Barbara Brannon, PhD, and Deborah Liles, PhD


Blast from the Past: Excavating History As Source and Inspiration

In a city that just celebrated its milestone 300th birthday, it’s especially appropriate to look at the myriad ways we can incorporate the authentic stories of the Western past in our writing. Author, editor, and historian Barbara Brannon and award-winning history professor Deborah M. Liles bring together practical techniques for researching sources, tapping family memories, verifying facts, and weaving history into fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry — as well as being attuned for that moment from the past that sparks our next story. This is a hands-on workshop using provided prompts and historical documents and artifacts — items we’ll bring from our own collections.


January 2019  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

High Plains Writers, Amarillo


December 2017 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Finally — the writing community you’ve been searching for! Are you looking for experienced, published authors who will read your work, give you credible feedback, and help you on your path to publishing—affordably and efficiently?


Come be a part of the first-ever Paragraph Ranch Writers’ Workshop, brought to you from the creators of Lone Star Literary Life. This weekend workshop, Dec. 1–3, 2017, led by popular fantasy author Tex Thompson, will support writers in the development of their voices and the practice of their craft. Located in a picturesque Western setting in the caprock country of Spur, Texas, this retreat welcomes writers of all ages, levels of experience, and genres.


All lodging (shared room) and meals are included (with optional discount for off-site lodging and optional upcharge for private room).



• Check into the rustic, comfy Back Door Inn on Spur's historic Burlington Avenue on Friday afternoon. Enjoy happy hour at the inn, followed by homestyle supper at the Spur Community Center and an evening of writing and networking.

• Saturday is focused on workshop, one-on-one instructor critiques, and small-group breakout sessions. Saturday evening wraps up with an open mic reading.

• Sunday morning includes writing time, brunch, and a publishing talk, wrapping up at 1 pm.


FAQs regarding objectives, lodging, meals, travel, and more are here.


Email or for more information. visit



Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon of Lubbock, Texas, coauthors of The Paragraph Ranch series (Booktrope, 2014, 2015) and creators of “The Working Writer” blog, combine more than a half century of experience in every aspect of books and media from concept to critique and publishing to promotion.


Our presentations range from 20-minute talks and 40-minute PowerPoint sessions to half-day, full-day, and multiple-day workshops, supplemented with individual and group activities and information-packed handouts, with topics relevant to writers, aspiring authors, published authors, editors, publicists, and publishers—and customizable to your group, event, or time frame.


Book us today at, 806.252.6554.



Circles of Desire:

Six Steps to the Heart of a Stronger Story

What do your characters really want—and what’s keeping them from getting it? In a fresh twist on the protagonist/antagonist, or conflict, model of analyzing a story’s structure, coauthors Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon help you tighten and focus your plot, create a persuasive synopsis, and craft your one-sentence “elevator speech.” This workshop is for anyone with a novel, memoir, or short story far enough along in development to consider submission—or writers who want to plan ahead for success.

>> Order the Kindle ebook, $2.99



Your Manuscript on the Flip Side:

What Your Editor’s Looking For—and Not

Ever wonder what really goes through an editor’s (or agent’s) mind when he opens the e-mail or package with your submission? Which factors almost guarantee an editor will toss it aside within five minutes—and which will compel her to read on? Editor and publisher Barbara Brannon and coauthor Kay Ellington guide writers to craft a submission that’ll get the attention of the pros. Come prepared with a draft of your first chapter, synopsis, and cover letter to get the most out of this hands-on workshop.



Six Degrees of Publishing

A writer’s options for publishing are broader today—and more confusing—than ever. Explore six different paths to publishing, with pros and cons and examples of each, in this brief overview. 20 minutes.



Self-Reliance or Vanity Fair?:

Making the Smartest Choices in Self-Publishing

New publishing technologies and a fast-changing industry have opened up scores of options for aspiring and established authors—while it’s harder than ever to attract an agent or a traditional publisher. Learn how writers of all levels can take advantage of self-publishing—to test the waters, produce a chapbook or artist’s book, promote your work, or meet your larger publishing goals. Veteran publisher and teacher Barbara Brannon covers the major players and how they work, terms and steps you should know, and costs and revenue you can expect from each approach



Social Media for Writers & Authors

Tweet, Blog, Pin, Tag, Follow, Like. A few years ago any of these everyday verbs might appear in your story. But now they mean something very different—and vitally important—for every writer looking to build an audience. In this PowerPoint presentation based on cutting-edge best practices and tools you can use, coauthors Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon guide you through the virtual jungle of Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Instagram, Pinterest, and more, demonstrating with real-time results how social media boosts aspiring and published authors alike, with just 20 minutes of activity a day.



Metadata Madness: How to Make Sure

Your Book Is Discoverable in a Digital World

If you’ve followed trends in book publishing—and self-publishing—chances are you’re heard the term “metadata.” It’s hardly a new concept, but in today’s digital world of bookselling, it’s one of the most crucial. As distributors and ebook platforms refine their industry practices, requirements for book identifiers, cover images, descriptions, and marketing information change as well. Veteran publisher Barbara Brannon guides you through 5 steps to keep your book from being left behind. For small-press publishers, self-publishers, and publicists, as well as authors who want to see how the sausage is made.



Publishing by the Numbers—and Why It’s

So Important to People Who Work with Words

We writers work in the world of words. (Pardon the alliteration.) So why should we have to know about pesky numbers like ISBN, eISBN, EAN, SAN, BISAC, discount rate, royalty percentage, returns allowance, and the like? Book publishing veteran and teacher Barbara Brannon demystifies how physical and ebooks are priced, paid for, and tracked—and how authors can maximize their own sales income. Useful information for any writer seeking to work with an agent or publisher; essential for those considering self-publishing.

Spur, Texas • •




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