Saturday, September 26, 2009

Book Pleasures Plus

If you are a reader intereseted in locating a review, or if you're a writer interested in having your book reviewed, check out the Book Pleasures website. I found this international community of over 40 reviewers that review all genres by subscribing to Reporter's Source (more on that in a minute). Book Pleasures has been in existence for over 5 years, receives 7000 unique visitors per week, and has posted over 4000 book reviews and over 500 author interviews.

After I contacted Norm Goldman, the publisher of Book Pleasures, with an e-mail about Teaching the Story, he forwarded my request to his staff. Two individuals responded with interest, and at this point, one has reviewed my book. Click here to read Wendy Thomas' wonderful review; click here to read her interview of me.

If you are a writer looking for ways to increase your visibility to the general public, you might consider signing up for the Reporter's Source newsletter. The daily e-mail is a a free service which links journalists and other members of the media with businesses and individuals who can provide relevant information.

And while I'm talking about making your skills and talents known to journalists who need your story, consider signing up for HARO. You will receive three e-mails a day with a list of about 20 journalists who are looking for experts on a wide variety of topics. So far I have been interviewed for an article on "What it Takes to be a Teacher" (Click "Read the List Now" and go to page 12 to read my quote.) And I'm in the process of considering being a member of a the Ziggity Zoom Advisory Board.

And you thought that all that writers did was write. If only that were true!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Rules

If given the option, I could much easier describe a crimson leaf that is heralding the approaching season, then picking the words my character, Kate Dinsmore, uses when talking to her sister Ginny. It feels as if there are no rules when writing my story. Of course there are reams of guidelines and lots of books on how to write fiction. But until I write my unique story that is taking place in Charlotte, NC in 1950, it has never existed before.

I can’t describe how my character looks, the clothes she wears, or her peculiar mannerisms until I create her. I can’t predict how she’ll react to getting snubbed at cotillion because it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know what Kate will say when she meets Lillie, the light-skinned African American granddaughter of her grandmother’s cook. How (and why?) would they develop a friendship? What obstacles will they meet? If Kate visits Lillie in her home in Griertown, what will happen there? All of these are unanswered question because very simply, the story isn’t written yet. No rules. No road map.

It’s frustrating, exciting, and challenging—all in one. And that’s why I’m a huge fan of students learning to write fiction. Imaginations are stretched as young authors build their own mini-world in which original characters lose a soccer game, compete in a difficult karate match, fail a driver’s test, or do any number of things which make for an interesting story. And the author must plan the story so that events build to a satisfactory and logical conclusion.

Of course there are rules. One of most important ones for students to learn is that the imaginary world they have created must be believable. That means that very few 12-year-old girls take full charge of 5 younger siblings when their parents die or very few 16-year-old boys save the world single-handily from nuclear destruction.

For me, it means finding out what happens when a 13-year-old Caucasian girl who doesn’t fit in with the upper-crust society she is thrust into, and a 14-year-old light-skinned African American who feels different than the rest of her community--meet.

Stay tuned. I suspect I may discover this story just a step ahead of you. And in the process, I hope I create a story as beautiful and unique as these flaming red leaves in Crossville, Tennessee.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Talking Story is Live!


For days my fellow author, Joyce Hostetter, has been tweaking our newsletter, Talking Story. Writing the articles was the easy part. Putting it all together was another story. Although I moaned and groaned about the hours I spent editing and uploading addresses, to be honest, Joyce conceived the project and is responsible for how professional it looks. If you didn't receive a copy in your in-box today, click here, and you'll go right to it.

It feels good to have published this issue. As icing on the cake, I was delighted that my former editor at Maupin House, Emily Raij, chose to blog about us today.

My husband and I are in Crossville, Tn. for a few days of R & R. For him, that means golf and tennis. For me, it means 3 R's-Reading (Joyce's "Work in Progress" about a WWII conscientous objector); 'riting (time to get back to my historical novel. Hmmm...last I worked on it was in July. Where in the world was I?); and Recreating (have bikes, will travel.)

Sounds like a winning combination to me!
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Future of Books is Not Dead!


As Mark Twain once said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." I hope the same can be said about books.

One fear that I have heard writers express, is that books, as you and I have known and loved them, are becoming extinct. The rumor in the publishing industry is that Kindle and other hand-held electronic devices, will replace hard cover novels, soft cover paperbacks, newspapers, magazines and every other form of print media.

But wow can you curl up on a sofa or in front of a fire with a hand-held 6" screen? How can you share the pictures of Winnie-the-Pooh's treks with Piglet with your six-year-old on a monitor that fits into the palm of your hand?

An article in The Charlotte Observer's business section on September 4 helps relieve these anxieties. According to "Electronic readers' high prices might limit appeal," the high price of the readers ($199 - $489) will limit the consumer base. According to analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, "The majority of consumers don't care enough about reading or technology to invest in this type of single purpose device at anything close to realistic prices." While I wish that Epps' thought about reading wasn't true, I think she has a very valid point about the cost.

The Kindle's credentials are impressive. Long battery life makes it extremely portable. And with a 1500 book capacity, it would take a long time to read all the books I could download to a tiny reader.

But that's a steep price tag to pay for the privilege of toting my library in my purse or backpack.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like to feel the pages I am turning and love the smell of old, musty books. I like to look at the cover of a book and think about what's inside. With my over-50-years-old-eyes, I don't want to have to be squinting at a small screen, or have to enlarge every article so big that I can only see a portion of one paragraph.

Mark Twain, you don't have to turn over in your grave. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will still find their way into the hearts--and hands of readers. Hopefully, for a very long time to come.
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