Tuesday, October 27, 2009

WVTF Essay

What fun I had recording this radio essay for WVTF. Called "You're Never Too Old," it's about a goofy summer birthday party when lots of adults forgot their ages and had way too much fun.
Yup, that would be yours truly. Thought they'd crop the photo a bit, but . . . .

Hope you enjoy the essay as much as I enjoyed the original party.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reading and Signing

Sally Roseveare had a wonderful turnout at the Westlake library last night and sold ten books. She read sections of both of her Smith Mountain Lake mysteries, told hysterical stories about doing reseach on stuffing a man into a porta-potty (No, it really can't be done), talked about how she names and creates her characters and answered a host of thoughtful and well-informed questions. Check her web site for signings and readings. Take it from me: her books make great Christmas presents, particularly when she personalizes her signature. Don't miss out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Reading and Signing

I'm honored to introduce my friend, Sally Roseveare, at the Westlake Library tonight at 6:30P. She'll be reading exerpts from her latest Smith Mountain Lake Mystery. Afterwards, she'll be signing books.

Monday, October 12, 2009

James River Writers Conference

Once again, the JRW conference sold out two weeks prior to the event. And the caliber of talent on panels surpassed even the great talent from last year. I continue to be amazed at how many writers reside in Virginia and don't publicize that fact. Makes me feel like I'm in the right state at the right time.

Most helpful sessions were on marketing your work. I took tons of notes and need to sit down and refine my marketing guidelines for writers. Anyone know how much time (percentage of time) authors spend on marketing and how much time they spend on writing? I'd be interested in your experience.

Sessions that will help improve my writing included ones on setting the scene, detailed character development (particularly putting flesh on secondary characters), dialogue development, serial characters, and point of view.

Writers who shared their thoughts included:

  • Katherine Neville, NYT best seller who says she writes the oldest type of story in the world, the adventure-quest
  • Maggie Stiefvater, a wonderful YA writer who actually seduced me enough to buy Shiver
  • Meg Medina, a middle grade writer whose themes focus on multicultural experiences -- she's Cuban American
  • Dash Shaw, I only wish I loved graphic novels as he does. His Bottomless Bellybutton looked fantastic
  • Gigi Amateau, who got a bit of short shrift when her agent was stricken with the flu upon arrival and had to drop a panel on interaction between writers and their agents, moderated a good panel on the art of the ending.

    I walked away with so many nuggets that my brain felt squished. Unsquished my brain yesterday by not working. Today I'm sorting through the gray cells and putting some of the nuggets to work right away.

    I can't wait for next year's conference.
  • Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Archaeological Dig

    When I write a first draft, I keep a list of CDs I listen to, often by chapter. As the mood of a chapter changes, so does the CD in the player. Sometimes all I listen to is a single song over and over, until the chapter is complete. Other times, I put on a CD and let it play.

    I like to edit and revise to the same music to see if it still sets the right tone. But when I reopened Shades of Pale, the second Mad Max manuscript, I couldn't find the play list. I dug through my various thumb drives, backed up CDs, my external hard drive and my three laptops to find it. I still couldn't find the play list. I dragged out shovels and dental picks, brooms and tiny brushes just like I did on a dig one summer back in college. And I nearly panicked. Eventually, I found a rather tattered CD tucked into the wrong physical file folder. Voila! The play list.

    I have now added the songs and CDs under the title of each chapter so that I don't lose it again.

    It will be interesting to see if the songs still inspire, or if they have lost their allure in the past few months since the manuscript rested in repose on a shelf. More on that as I get deeper into the editing.

    Monday, October 5, 2009


    Over the weekend I was reading an essay lamenting the loss of our ability to write crusive script. The writer said that the art of actually writing a letter is lost to Tweets, Facebook posts, texting, e-mails, etc. I was impressed that someone actually took time to pen an essay on this dying art form.

    Then I realized that he must have written the essay first in long hand, because had he used a computer program, his most annoying typo would have been caught. First, he lamented "correspondance" instead of "correspondence." Not once but four times. When I thought it was safe to keep reading came the better typo -- and the one which might really represent the writer's state of mind. Gone was "correspondance" and in its place was "correspondense." I leave it up to you to decide if the latter was more representative.

    Reminded me of a diligent student when I was teaching comparative literature at USC (the one in California). After reading an otherwise decent homework assignment, I was forced to write "heroin is not equal to heroine" on the board.

    Is it just me????? I know I have lost my sense of humor about not using a dictionary. Buy one. Use it. If you use spell check, check to be sure the word is actually right before accept its authenticity.