Good news, good question, and good advice!

Happy Friday!

I will be posting the final chapter in the Conference Critique Workshop early next week that will offer tips on making the most of your conference day. Until then, here is today’s . . .


Congratulations and a mighty woo-HOO to regional member Janet Willen and Canada East member Marjorie Gann for their recent January 11th release of FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY!

When they were too impoverished to raise their families, ancient Sumerians sold their children into bondage. Slave women in Rome faced never-ending household drudgery. The ninth-century Zanj were transported from East Africa to work the salt marshes of Iraq. Cotton pickers worked under terrible duress in the American South.

Ancient history? Tragically, no. In our time, slavery wears many faces. James Kofi Annan’s parents in Ghana sold him because they could not feed him. Beatrice Fernando had to work almost around the clock in Lebanon. Julia Gabriel was trafficked from Arizona to the cucumber fields of South Carolina.

Five Thousand Years of Slavery provides the suspense and emotional engagement of a great novel. It is an excellent resource with its comprehensive historical narrative, firsthand accounts, maps, archival photos, paintings and posters, an index, and suggestions for further reading. Much more than a reference work, it is a brilliant exploration of the worst – and the best – in human society.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes.

Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews.

For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Janet and Marjorie are scheduled to appear in Toronto on February 8 at Ben McNally Books and on February 10 and 11 at the conference Reading for the Love of It.   Janet will also be interviewed in an upcoming As The Eraser Burns post. 

Again, congratulations, Janet and Marjorie, we wish you the very best of luck! 🙂

On to our . . .


Continuing the critique theme, member Larissa Graham asks:

For my conference critique, should I submit my prologue with my first chapter?

Our wonderful critique coordinator, Naomi Milliner, offers this suggestion:

My thought is that if there’s a prologue, it’s there for a reason – so they should include it.  Otherwise, why have it? If they don’t need it for the critique, they probably don’t need it at all.  But it should count towards the 15 pages.

Veteran reviewer Lois Szymanski and author of several books including THE TRUE STORY OF SEA FEATHER adds:

From a critiquer’s point of view, I agree with Naomi. If it is important to the story we want to see it. If it is not, the writer needs to ask themselves, “Is it necessary at all?” Without it, the critiquer will eat up your time together with unnecessary questions.

Thanks, ladies!

For everyone else, got a question or announcement of your own?  Please send them to

And remember:

“To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”  Anne Rice.

So happy writing, everyone, let’s go make a fool of ourselves! 🙂

Laura Bowers

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
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