Only 79 More Shopping Days Till Christmas…

6 10 2010

It’s always exciting when a fellow author has a new book out. This week we’re celebrating Elizabeth Dulemba’s latest book, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia. It may seem a bit early to celebrate the season, but there are only about 79 shopping days left, so here’s a great gift for all the kiddies on your list.

You might also want to check out Elizabeth’s other books. And her site has lots of kid-friendly activities. Also, her book, Lulu’s Brew, available as an app, has had more than 9,000 downloads! Very cool!! After all Halloween’s just around the corner.





Crime Doesn’t Pay, Or Does It?

17 08 2010

So as I head off to Killer Nashville, where a horde of potential killers and criminals gather–or should I say writers who write about such things (let’s hope it’s all done vicariously)–I’m looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals.

I wonder if those of us who read and write mysteries do so to get rid of, or to fuel, our aggressive and antisocial tendencies. Where else can you find a better, law-abiding way to torture your enemies or an irritating spouse than in the pages of a book? Ah, the imagination runs wild.

Your boss fires you? You’ll make him pay. He’ll become a victim in your next crime novel. Wife driving you crazy? You can plot lots of great ways to do away with her. Lots of possibilities there to work out your negative feelings and revenge is sweet. It’s even sweeter if you make a profit on it. And this is one time that crime definitely DOES PAY.





Pop over to Prairie Chicks

14 08 2010

I’m blogging at Prairie Chicks about overcoming rejection letters. If you’re a new writer who’s getting a slew of rejection letters, I have advice–one big tip that can help new (or even experienced) writers take their work to the next level.

The blog is called:





Killer Nashville

13 08 2010

Well, I’ll soon be off to Killer Nashville, the great crime writing conference. Looking for tips on how to bump off pesky characters, pull off a heist, or escape a jail sentence? You’ve come to the right place. Where else could you sit down to dinner with tablemates who are all interested in discussing the best way to poison people so it’s undectable. Sort of makes me a bit paranoid. I find myself curling my arm around my plate to protect my food, but who knows if that would help. One of these would-be writers might have experimented with their poisons in the kitchen.

So what turns people crazy enough to write about sneaky ways to kill other human beings, or to read these books by the dozens? Not sure I want to delve into the psychology behind it, but I once heard that crime writers are often perfectionists who love to solve puzzles. Perfectionists do tend to get themselves all worked up over small details & threaten to kill people who mess up their orderly lives. So I’d suggest you steer clear of perfectionists when you’re choosing a spouse or a friend. You never know when they might knife you in the back.

Here’s a schedule if you’re interested in attending. Keynote speaker is Jeffery Deaver; find out more about him on his website. Agent and editor pitch sessions are included in the registration price. Conference runs from Thursday evening, August 19, to Sunday afternoon, August 22, 2010. Hope to see you there.





Pirate Party

4 08 2010

One of the dangers of researching a book is that you stumble across fascinating information that has nothing to do with your topic. Or it’s connected to your topic, but can’t be used. I have a bad habit of getting sidetracked, and here’s one of my recent forays into the world of pirates.

I was fascinated to discover that there’s a new political party that’s taken off in many countries. Ever heard of the Pirate Party? Yep, they actually have candidates, some of whom have won elections. It started in Sweden, but it’s spread to Germany and about 14 other European countries. And Canada now has one too.

Led by young tech-savvy voters,  PPI (Pirate Parties International) members support free sharing of intellectual property. As the Canadian Pirate Party leader, Jake Daynes, a 19-year-old video-game-design student, says, “We think that for the dissemination of culture — music, books, movies, you name it — that should be [considered] fair use.” They also want more government transparency as well as no patents on pharmaceuticals or software.

Interesting concepts… It would certainly reduce Internet piracy if all the copyrighted material were available free. It seems many of the younger generation are ready to embrace it, even those who design video games and create software. Then all countries and individuals would have equal access. Maybe the next step would be to compensate those who design intellectual property–including artists, musicians, writers, and inventors–the way we compensate our sports figures.

It seems the Pirate Party is gaining a foothold around the world. Here’s a list of places that either have or are starting a Pirate Party:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
China
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Ireland
Italy
Kazakhstan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
Ukraine
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay

Quote from: Barber, Mike. “Pirate Party of Canada Calls for Canadian Copyright Reform,” National Post, May 1, 2010.




The Secret to Publication

5 07 2010

Now that I’ve been published, people often ask me how to do it. Learning your craft is important, of course, and so is having creative ideas, but the most important tip I can share is to connect with other writers and form a critique group.

Years ago, when writing was only a glimmer of an idea in the back of my mind, I sat at a banquet table next to an author who was receiving an award. During the meal, I listened with awe as she discussed the members of her critique group–all famous authors.

No wonder she got published with connections like that, I thought.

When I suggested that she was lucky to have such stellar critique partners, she laughed. “We all started out as unpublished writers. After we’d been together about five years, one by one we each got a book contract. Then over the next few years, we started winning awards. Now most of the group members have gone on to become famous, but we actually learned to write together.”

Little did I know that I was soon to follow her path. Last weekend I had the joy of attending a book signing at the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg, PA. It brought tears to my eyes to know that the members of my very first crit group were there signing their books too. In fact, all of us have more than one book published. And, yes, we did it together. I’d venture to say that without sharing our combined knowledge, we would never be where we are today.

But the story doesn’t end there. I moved to a new state and a new crit group. Of course, I didn’t leave my old group behind. We still crit each other’s work via mail. But I’ve been with my new crit group for several years, and now that group is on the path to publication as well. One of my friends from that group joined me for this Harrisburg booksigning with her first novel in a series of three. And as for the other members of that group, all of them are close to publication. I’ve watched in delight as the submissions for each crit meeting move to ever higher levels of quality. I know that soon all of us will be doing group signings together.

In a few years, some of my CPs (or many of them) may be household names. Then I can say I knew them when. In fact, one member of a crit group I belonged to made the NY Times Bestseller list for a book I helped to critique.Very cool! And other CPs are now winning writing awards and contests. So it won’t be long until I’ll be able to say the same thing as that famous author: “We all learned to write together.”

Moving up the ladder of publishing success often seems to be a painstakingly slow process–one rung at time. Many times you wonder if you’ll ever get high enough off the ground, but when you look down, you can see how far you’ve come. Even better, though, is watching those around you reach that pinnacle of success.





Stimulating Creativity

1 07 2010

Picture by Clare Bloomfield

Whew! Back from ALA and glad to be surrounded by trees and green again. Guess I’m not a city person. I found the heat, humidity, and press of the crowds draining. I suppose many people find the city exhilarating, but if I lived there for any length of time, I’d miss the black sky spangled with stars, the treetops swaying in the breeze, and the laundry-fresh air after a rain.

Quite a contrast to the city, where neon lights pulsed all night, concrete towers hemmed me in and obscured the sky, and rain swirled oily puddles into the gutters and made the air stink of old urine. I admire those who can live amid the clanking, banging, and exhaust fumes and still remain creative. I wonder if the city sparks a different kind of creativity–a pulsating, in-your-face kind of story. Perhaps my writing needs a jolt of that high energy.

What setting stimulates your creativity?





Leaps of Imagination: Fact, Fiction, & Fantasy!

4 06 2010

If you live near Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia, you might want to check out the cool conference that area has planned for children’s/YA writers sponsored by the regional SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) on July 17 & 18, 2010.

They have a fabulous lineup of speakers and breakout sessions for authors and illustrators at all stages of their craft–from beginners to the multi-published. Read on for a tentative schedule, then click here for more details, a brochure, and a downloadable registration form.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 

8:00 – 8:50 AM   Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales/Raffle Tickets/Making Friends
8:50 – 9:00 AM   Introductions & Welcome
9:00 – 9:50 AM   Stephen Fraser—“Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book”
9:55–10:45 AM  Michelle Poploff and Edie Hemingway—“Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”
10:45-11:00 AM  Break / Book Sales
11:00 – 11:50 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions
  • Marc Aronson—“Trends in Nonfiction”
  • Bonnie J. Doerr—“Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”
  • Carolyn Reeder—“Look Before You Leap”
  • Amie Rose Rotruck—“Building a Fantasy World”
  • 12:00 – 12:50 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    1:00 – 1:50 PM Keynote Speaker, Margaret Peterson Haddix— “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”
    2:00 – 2:50 PM   Afternoon Breakout Sessions
  • Editor/Agent Panel—Michelle Poploff, Louise May, Michelle Corpora, Stephen Fraser
  • Elana Roth (agent)—“The Great Query Caper”
  • Kelley Cunningham and Karen Nelson—“Illustrators’ First Look”—See registration page for details
  • 2:50 – 3:10 PM   Cookie Break/Book Sales and Signing/Networking
    3:10 – 4:00 PM   Marc Aronson—“The Truth Is… A Question”
    4:00 – 4:50 PM   “Steps in the Write Direction: A Panel Discussion on Writing Programs”
    4:50 – 5:00 PM   First Day Wrap-up and Raffle

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    7:45 – 8:15 AM   (Optional) Regional Chat Session in Dining Room
    7:45 – 8:20 AM  Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales
    8:20 – 8:30 AM   Welcome
    8:30 – 9:20 AM   Elana Roth—“The Scoop on High Concept”
    9:25 – 10:15 AM  Carolyn Crimi—“Baking Chocolate Cake: All the Ingredients You Need To Make Your Picture Book Delicious”
    10:15 – 10:30 AM  Break / Book Sales
    10:30 – 11:20 AM  Morning Breakout Sessions
    •  Teresa Crumpton—“Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”
    • Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old—“Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”
    • Donny Bailey Seagraves—“Finding Fiction In Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Setting Inspired by Real Life”
    • Karen Nelson—“Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace” (for illustrators)
    11:30 – 12:30 PM  Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    12:30 – 1:20 PM  Keynote Speaker, Joyce McDonald—“The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”
    1:20 – 2:10 PM   Louise May—“Creating Books Featuring Diversity: How Do I Leap In?”
    2:10 – 2:30 PM   Cookie Break / Last Book Sales
    2:30 – 3:20 PM   Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham— “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”
    3:20 – 4:00 PM   “First Page” Panel
    4:00 – 4:15 PM   Raffles and Farewell

    General Session Blurbs (in order of presentation)

    “Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book” –Stephen Fraser

    Discussing the simple principle, which an agent uses to sell your book, agent Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency talks about some recent sales, how and why they sold, how to succeed in today’seconomy, and how to be your best creative self.

    “Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”—Michelle Poploff and Edith Hemingway

    You’ve revised and polished before submitting, but what happens after your manuscript is accepted? More revision! Michelle Poploff, V.P. and Executive Editor of Delacorte Press, and author Edith Hemingway will discuss working together to make a book the best it can be.

    “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”—Margaret Peterson Haddix

    So you’ve dreamed up an incredible plot and/or extraordinary characters and/or a fascinating setting. How do you make your readers understand and fall in love with your story, too? And how do you fill in parts of the story that your imagination is still a little vague about?

    “The Truth Is…A Question”—Marc Aronson

    My books center on questions that I, or an expert with whom I collaborate, want to investigate. Formulating the right questions, figuring out how to answer them, and then bringing the results to young readers require many leaps of the imagination. My session will show the risks that writing non-fiction requires.

    “The Scoop on High-Concept”—Elana Roth

    We keep hearing agents say they’re on the look-out for this mysterious beast called the high-concept project. But what is it? Is it just the simple Hollywood pitch? Also, if there’s high-concept, does that mean there’s low-concept? And does high-concept have to mean low-quality? In this talk, Elana will demystify this term and give you the scoop on why these high-concept books are so appealing in the market.

    “Baking Chocolate Cake: All the ingredients You Need to Make Your Picture Book Delicious”—Carolyn Crimi

    Picture books should be as enjoyable and as memorable as that perfect slice of chocolate cake. So why does yours taste more like broccoli? Carolyn Crimi will help you learn to mix, sift, and blend your picture book batter until it’s the perfect consistency. No cooking experience necessary!

    “The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”—Joyce McDonald

    When our inspiration comes from the news media, the reason we are drawn to these real-life stories isn’t always evident at first.  Sometimes these stories haunt us until we finally confront them through narrative.  We write to understand, and in the act of writing, we often arrive at unexpected places and surprising truths.  In this session, I will talk about the tragic facts that informed my novels, Swallowing Stones and Shades of Simon Gray, and how I transformed them into fiction.

    “CREATING BOOKS FEATURING DIVERSITY: HOW DO I LEAP IN?”—Louise May 3, 2010

    Is it okay to write and/or illustrate across cultures? Do I need to be of the same background as the characters in my story? Do books featuring people of color have to be nonfiction or historical fiction? Is there a place for realistic fiction? What about fun and fantasy in books focusing on diversity? These questions and more pertaining to creating diverse stories for all of today’s young readers will be answered, from the point of view of Lee & Low Books, one of the country’s premier publishers of children’s books “about everyone~for everyone.”

    “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”—Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham

    This joint presentation by Highlights Editor, Debra Hess, and Highlights High Five Art Director, Kelley Cunningham, will discuss the practical realities of putting together a magazine—what they actually do on a day-to-day basis and how it all works.

    Breakout Sessions (in order of presentation)

    “Current Trends in Nonfiction”—Marc Aronson

    Marc Aronson will talk about trends in writing nonfiction—what is currently selling and traditional NF voice vs. creative or narrative NF voice, leaving plenty of time for Q & A.

    ”Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”—Bonnie J. Doerr

    Follow the unique writing journey of combining environmental science with fiction.  Topics covered include choice of location, inspiration, plot development, research, observation of endangered species, interaction with natural environment, character development, and teaching without preaching.

    “Look Before You Leap”—Carolyn Reeder

    Historical fiction is much more than a story set in the past. Explore why it’s important to know the history before imagining the fiction, discover ways of bringing the past to life for your readers, and pick up some tips on making your characters authentic.

    “Building a Fantasy World”—Amie Rose Rotruck

    What color is the sky?  Who’s the king/president/dictator?  What’s the most common tree?  How does the food taste?  Good fantasy is not only about a good plot and interesting characters, but a fully-realized world.  Even if you’re writing urban fantasy set in your own neighborhood, you still have some work to do to make your fantasy world believable.  We’ll look at some examples of well-created worlds, discuss how to find inspiration for your world, and do some world-brainstorming.

    The Great Query Caper”—Elana Roth

    Querying an agent is often the first step to breaking into today’s market, but even if you’ve written a novel, these brief letters of introduction can be intimidating. Elana will lead participants in a real-time simulation of her slush pile experience, followed with a group critique of those very real query letters she has received and reveal why they worked—or didn’t work—for her.  Please note this is not a pitch session but a chance to learn how an agent thinks and how you can stand out in the crowd.

    “Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”—Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old

    Award-winning, multi-published authors Wendie Old and Mary Bowman-Kruhm discuss two free blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and strike a glancing blow at other social media.  Bring a laptop or pen and paper and you’ll leave the session with a start on your own blog and basic information about social media.

    “Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”—Teresa Crumpton

     

    This fast-paced session is for all writers of fiction from beginner to multiply published professional. Together, we will work through a structured method, which blends general self-editing with deeper revision. Based on a series of strategic worksheets, in a half-session we’ll work through a Structure Analysis Worksheet and demonstrate its power. In the second half, we’ll use a basic Self-Edit Worksheet and note its benefits. Please bring a story or novel (yours or a published one) to work with. Handouts will be provided.

    Finding Fiction in Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Settings Inspired by Real Life”—Donny Bailey Seagraves

    How do you take a real-life event and turn it into a fictional story? A local family tragedy inspired me to write the middle-grade novel that became my first published book, Gone From These Woods. In this hands-on workshop, we will walk through the real place that became my book’s fictional world and we’ll meet some of the people who morphed into the characters there. Can you make the journey from your real-life event to fictional story? Bring pen and paper and I’ll show you how.

    “Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace”—Karen Nelson

    This session for illustrators will focus on the inner workings of a publishing company, art department and the role of the art director.  Learn about marketing tools, approaches that work, and case histories, leaving time for Q & A.





    More About Jill…

    24 05 2010

    So yesterday I posted about Jill Williamson being up for the Christy Award.

    You can find out more about Jill at her website or her Amazon page, where I lifted the opening sentences of her bio to whet your appetite:

    “Jill was raised in rural Alaska. Alone with her thoughts and the moose, daydreaming was a favorite pastime. As was reading…”

    And now she’s turned her passion for reading into a passion for writing, and a fine job she’s done of it. Here’s her latest book cover from Marcher Lord Press:

    You can get a copy at Amazon or at the Marcher Lord site.

    And if you’re wondering just how good this book is, here’s a review about Book One:

    “This thoroughly entertaining and smart tale will appeal to fans of Donita K. Paul and J.R.R. Tolkien. Highly recommended for CF and fantasy collections.” —Library Journal

    And the praise continues for Book Two:

    The second installment of the Blood of Kings series will thrill, surprise, and delight readers just as much as the first. With stellar craftsmanship, the author continues to thrust her characters into a myriad of plot-driven obstacles that will have readers biting their nails late into the night.”

    Christian Miles (Amazon review)

    With her first book up for a Christy and her second garnering well-deserved praise, you’ll want to grab a copy quickly before they all sell out. And if you want to get an autographed copy, you can get one at Jill’s website.





    Big News…

    23 05 2010

    We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast of BEA happenenings to cover some fabulously exciting news. My friend Jill Williamson is up for a Christy!!

    Christy Award

    How cool is that? So I just have to do a happy dance, and then plug this terrific book that’s been garnering all kinds of praise and winning multiple honors and awards. But now she’s up for one of the biggest awards in the Christian book world.

    If you aren’t familiar with the Christy, it started in 1999, and from the website:

    “The Christy Award is designed to:

    • Nurture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from a Christian worldview.
    • Bring a new awareness of the breadth and depth of fiction choices available, helping to broaden the readership.
    • Provide opportunity to recognize novelists whose work may not have reached bestseller status.”

    And Jill’s book certainly qualifies for the “quality and creativity” part. So what’s the fab book that’s snagging so much attention? It’s By Darkness Hid, the first book in The Blood of Kings trilogy.

    Book Two, To Darkness Fled, is out now. And I’m eagerly awaiting Book Three.