Coming out of Hibernation

18 03 2016

polar bear

What did you do on the long winter weekends? Besides hibernating to meet deadlines, I’ve also been spending time on writers’ retreats.

The first one occurred during the worst week of winter. I was anticipating a lovely warm cruise to Mexico when the car got stuck in the ice in the driveway, and airports all over the east coast shut down. I worried I might not make it to Florida before the cruise ship left. My own cancelled and delayed flights left me wondering if I’d make it. I arrived about six hours later than I’d planned, but in time to spend a night in a lovely FL hotel.

FL hotel

But delays weren’t the only thing I needed to worry about. Nothing like trying to board a ship with an expired passport. My new passport was safely locked up at home hundreds of miles away. After hours of frustration, we managed to get a copy of my birth certificate faxed a short while before the ship left port.
ship

So we were off to the Caymans and Cozumel with a group of authors, editors and agents aboard the Brilliance of the Seas. Some great pics of the fun and “work” we did can be found at the Seymour Agency website (scroll to bottom of page). Oh, wait, are most of those pictures of us eating? Believe me, we really did work, attend sessions, and pitch books. I returned with several editor requests for manuscripts and two more agents at the Seymour agency who will rep my work, so it was time well spent.

We did find time for fun and touring. I spent a day swimming with sea turtles and seeing babies to adults, touring small towns, and visiting Chichen Itza. My lovely editor gave me an additional week to finish my manuscript so I could enjoy the sightseeing and socializing.

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I returned home to warmer weather than when I left, but holed up in the house to finish that manuscript. Thanks to some wonderful critique partners, who edited while I wrote, I made the deadline.

After all that writing, I needed another break. So it was off to the North Carolina beach with a different group of authors. The weather was nice enough on Topsail Island for walks along the shore, picking up shells and sea glass, and sitting on my bedroom balcony to write and enjoy the view. Lots of craft sessions and fellowship filled the time between writing and meals. Hmm…are we eating again?

Topsail

The following weekend I headed to the lovely Mimslyn Inn in Luray, Virginia. Again, lots of great food and company, but time to work too. We created journals with pictures and notes about our book’s setting and details. As I researched, I stumbled across a valuable resource for my historical novel. I’m looking forward to delving into it further. I left the retreat refreshed and eager to get back to writing.
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I have some more hibernating to do before I attend one more retreat in April — this time an illustrators’ retreat. And then in May and June, I come out of my cave completely to attend a whirlwind of events for my book launch. So the next few weeks will be a mix of writing and planning.

As writers we often need to hibernate to get work done, but we should also plan to come out of our caves from time to time. And even if you’re not a writer, do you hunker down in winter and spend a lot time indoors? What do you do after an extended period of hibernation? Do you socialize or prefer quieter activities? And if you’re a writer, what are you favorite writers’ retreats?





Awesome Book Launch Party

23 05 2012

mini-champagne bottleWow! I was totally impressed by the book launch party last night at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, PA. Some great pics at Cate Masters‘s and Don Peschel‘s blogs. As Cate said, it was definitely “A Launch to Remember.”

Great readings, champagne toast (note the mini-champagne bottles–with the book title–they had for the authors), and a booksigning. This was the first time I’ve done a booksigning where it was non-stop signing during the whole event. Absolutely amazing!

Mega-thanks to the library staff for arranging the event and to Ann Elia Stewart, the editor, who has her own novel, Twice a Child, coming out soon.

All proceeds from  benefit the library.





Book Launch at Camp Hill, PA, Library

22 05 2012

Come and meet the authors tonight, May 22, 2012, at 7 PM.

 

ImageBOOK LAUNCH FOR SHORT STORY COLLECTION WRITTEN BY

FREDRICKSEN LIBRARY WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS

 

CAMP HILL, PA  — A book launch party for an anthology of short stories, entitled “A Community of Writers,” will be held at the Cleve J. Fredricksen Library, 100 N. 19th Street, Camp Hill on Tuesday, May 22, from 7 – 8:30 p.m.  Authors will be on hand to sign the books, which can be purchased at the event, with all profits donated to the library.

            The short story collection features twenty-five stories penned by participants in the library’s Natalie D. Craumer Writer’s Workshop, named for the workshop beneficiary’s late wife.  The workshop has been a popular staple of the library’s events for the past decade.  It is facilitated by Ann Elia Stewart, a local author, teacher and award-winning writer.

            “Each story is unique,” Stewart said.  “The anthology encompasses literary and genre pieces, including science fiction, fantasy, romance, satire and thriller. It represents the best short stories to come out of the writing workshop throughout the past ten years.

            “All the stories were generated from workshop lessons and exercises,” Stewart continued.  “The collection is a readable treat to curl up with and enter the imaginations of very talented area writers.”

            Published by Sunbury Press of Camp Hill, the book can be ordered as an e-book for both Nook and Kindle as well as in print.  For ordering information, visit www.SunburyPress.com.





Free and Bargain E-books

30 03 2012

Pass it on… Some great bargains for lovers of YA books are available this month:

FREE, yep, that’s right, FREE for the next few days (for Amazon prime members). It will be only 99 cents from April 1 to May 1:

Island Sting Check out Island Sting at Amazon.

Spirited Anthology by Maria V. Snyder

Anthology by authors Maria V. Snyder, Candace Havens, Shannon Delany, Jill Williamson, Judith Graves, Kitty Keswick, Dawn Dalton, Linda Joy Singleton, and others...

Spirited available on Amazon for 99 cents!! It has augmented reality by Karl Gee.

Under My Skin

Under My Skin regularly $4.99, available for 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time.

And for adults, check out Dancing with the Devil, by Cate Masters, FREE on Amazon for a limited time. For other great bargains, check out the Leap Books site on April 1, 2012, for some great bargains.

And for a blog about FREE and BARGAIN BOOKS, see Downtown YA.





What If You Were Cloned?

15 01 2012

Replication by Jill WilliamsonWhoot!! So excited! Got a copy of Jill Williamson‘s latest book from Zondervan. It came when I had stacks of work to do, including major writing deadlines, so my plan was to read the first page or two, then save it for later. OK, so I read the first chapter, and the second, and… I’m sure you get the picture. Several hours later I’d read the whole book and still can’t get it out of my mind.

I’ve included a synopsis below, but that doesn’t do the book justice. So much of the heart-pounding excitement is left out. And it doesn’t capture the humor or the poignancy. I don’t want to include any spoilers here, but suppose you were a clone who had been isolated in an underground facility and had never experienced life? And what if you escaped for a brief time? Wouldn’t you have a lot of questions? So does Martyr (or J:3:3). And his naïveté leads to many humorous situations.

So often Martyr’s innocent questions leave you torn between wanting to laugh and cry. Williamson is a master at defusing sadness with deft touches of humor. But the humor never detracted from the more serious message: Do clones have souls?

Kudos to Zondervan for being willing to tackle the cloning issue from a totally different point of view. Not whether cloning is right or wrong, but what would happen in the future if cloning humans becomes a reality. Williamson has dealt with this topic in a fun-to-read thriller that raises many thought-provoking questions. Questions that are sure to haunt you–the same way her carefully drawn characters will–long after the book covers are closed.

If you aren’t already a Williamson fan, after reading Replication, dip into her award-winning Blood of Kings trilogy (Marcher Lord Press), which has been compared to Tolkien. She also has stories in the anthologies, Spirited (Leap Books) and Ether Ore (MLP). All well worth reading!

BOOK BLURB

Martyr—otherwise known as Jason 3:3—is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to ‘expire’ in less than a month. To see the sky. Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures—the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he’s ever known.

LINK TO SAMPLE CHAPTER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jill Williamson is a novelist, dreamer, and believer. Growing up in Alaska led to a love of books, and in 2010 her first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the Christy Award. She loves working with teenagers and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. Jill lives in Oregon with her husband and two children. Visit Jill online at www.jillwilliamson.com.





Inspiration

20 07 2011

Somehow my vacations always seem to end up as working vacations. My husband could never understand why I didn’t consider camping a vacation. For some reason, cooking for all seven of us over an open fire or on a small cookstove while keeping an eye on smallfry who each ran in different directions, washing dishes under a pump, and spending the night on a slowly deflating air mattresses while being kicked in the ribs, head, and stomach by various sleeping offspring, never topped my list of summer fun. I usually went home more tired than rested, not to mention bug-bitten, sunburned, and sore.

So this summer I planned a different type of working vacation. I agreed to help teach writing sessions at an out-of-state university. I was expecting to come home exhausted and drained. Instead, I came back excited, energized, and eager to dive into my own creative work.

It probably helped that my destination was the Mazza Summer Institute in Findlay, Ohio. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Findlay University holds a fabulous weeklong conference featuring picture book authors and illustrators. The University is home to the famous Mazza Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of original picture book art.  From the early works of Randolph Caldecott to many of the latest award-winning picture book artists, Mazza has it all. Watercolors, oils, prints, collage, pen and ink, pastels, and every medium in between. Each piece of art hangs above a shelf with the picture book it’s printed in. For anyone who loves picture books the way I do, it’s an inspiration. So much so, that someday I hope to see my own work hanging on their walls.

So I spent a week co-teaching breakout sessions in between listening to famous illustrators give visual presentations on their artistic processes and tell about their lives. Even more fun was being around an audience of teachers, librarians, writers, and art lovers who enjoy reading picture books even when there isn’t a toddler within hearing distance. I felt right at home.





Ship Ahoy!

21 06 2011

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, but a five-book contract with deadlines a month apart has been grueling.

But I just received word that Pirates 
Through the Ages  is on the way. Yay!! Can’t wait to see how it looks. The editor said it turned out terrific, so I’m excited about holding it in my own two hands. Here’s a mock up of the cover.

Looking back, I wondered while I was immersed in it if I’d manage to get it done by the deadline, but I did. Now I’m wondering the same about my latest assignment. What is it about writers that they’ll put themselves under this much pressure and agree to practically impossible deadlines, then slog through long hours day after day to produce a book? What is it about this profession that’s so compelling? It’s obviously not the money. As most writers discover, this isn’t a lucrative profession. So what do we get besides the pleasure and excitement of holding a book in our hands?