March 25, 2011

Hiatus - and News!

Well, it's time that I came clean and admit that this blog is going to have to go on hiatus for a bit.  The reason?  I'm deep in novel revisions.  I'm making great progress (about 4 pages a day), but between that, my day job, and you know five-year-old twins and a husband, I find my time a bit short.  So, let's not say goodbye ~ let's say see you later.  Maybe about a month, as at my present pace that's when I'll have a good solid draft done.  Yay!

But the news!  I have a story up, one that I'm very proud of.  It's called "How to Be a Man," and it's up at the wonderful online magazine NewWest.net.  Check it out!   I'm one of six writers who were chosen by Russell Rowland to have their work showcased.  (And the lovely Jenny Shank is the books editor. Check out her book The Ringer, just out!) Another of those chosen is my friend Shann Ray, who won last year's Bread Loaf Bakeless prize for his short story collection American Masculine (out soon).  I would also urge you to hang out at NewWest awhile.

Ciao ~ for now.

March 11, 2011

Progress

I haven’t been showing up here or on Facebook or Twitter very much because I’ve been spending every spare moment doing a major rewrite on the novel. Back on that horse!  I’m thrilled to say I’m making great progress. First I edit through yesterday’s work or from the beginning of the chapter and then I go on to write new material. I average 4 pages of new material a day. I’ve been using the desk timer, and it takes about two hours to do the pages. I’m between one-fourth and one-third of the way there. Best case scenario, I will have this draft done in a little more than two months. But, you know about those best case scenarios!

Have a fabulous, wonderful, productive weekend. I’m going to try to!

March 4, 2011

Working a Table at a Convention

The last couple of days for my day job, I've been working a table at a grad fair.  You'd think it'd be mind-numbingly boring, but, you know, it wasn't.  It was long but not boring.  I'm inherently a people-person, and now that I have a few people skills, it's great just to talk with people!

But you know the greatest thing about this experience?  I thought a lot about ways to sell my book, when the time comes.  Lots of dos and don'ts of working a table.  It's the same things people like J.A. Konrath have been saying for a long time, but sitting there really drove it home. There was a great table over to the side that had the ROTC and AFROTC, and there were at least four people manning the table (three men and a woman) at all times and they looked like they were having fun and they had giveaways and they even walked around and introduced themselves.

So here's what I was thinking:
  • Try to create a party at your table.
  • Have cool giveaways. I was thinking of the cool cat pen you get from Hemingway's house in Key West. Also postcards of your books, book marks, any cool inexpensive toys you can think of, and so on.
  • Have treats or cookies.
  • Don't forget the kids - have stickers or something.
  • Talk with people as much as possible!
  • Have that quick pitch (one line about your book, the hook) handy, but don't necessarily lead with it.
  • Have a contest where people can sign up, thereby collecting their names for your email list.  Or at least have a place for people to sign up.
  • Have other calls to action.  Make sure your web address is on all handouts.
  • Be positioned near the door to the right - where people will naturally go first and have the most energy.  If you can't be to the right, be to the left.
  • Have lots of flair and stuff on your table.
  • If you can swing t-shirts as giveaways, do it!
  • Have your books there to sell.
  • Have a cool artfully designed short story as a giveaway.
  • Talk to the organization who's putting the event on for ideas.
  • Have something that people can take to fill out and mail in to get their email addresses or a handsigned book.
  • Stand.  If not in front of your booth, behind it.  Look approachable.  Do not hide behind a laptop or a book.  And don't bring a friend that will distract you. You're supposed to be talking to new people, not shutting everyone out by talking to your friend.  It's okay if there's a bunch of people and a party too.
  • Take time to mingle yourself, if you can.
  • It'd be cool to have a whole coordinated ad campaign with promo items and everything organized ahead of time. 
  • A banner that hangs over the front of your table is nice too.
  • See if you can schedule a reading or some other event at your table.
These were just a few of the thoughts that were running through my mind as I stood there and smiled and saw what other people were doing.

March 3, 2011

Tobias Wolff and Stephanie Vaughn

Tobias Wolff is just so cool in so many ways.  I love his short stories, and I've just ordered his memoir.  I love his voice, down to earth, engaging.  And he looks so much like my father (who passed away in 1991) they could be brothers.  Same lanky English looking frame, same gray mustache, glasses, same engaging expressions and gestures.

And I've only "read" (listened to) one thing of Stephanie Vaughn's but that story rocks.  I wish there were more to read.  Toby says there is a novel that hasn't been finished, or maybe a novel in stories, about the subject of this one story.  I would love it if she finished it!! (See below - she has.)

(As a side note, it's kind of scary to think about Stephanie's life.  She got derailed somehow.  She has at least one beautiful gut-wrenching story in the New Yorker, and then nothing.  I wonder what happened?  It scares the life out me because the world has a way of taking it all from you, your writing energy, and my fear is exactly this: years go by and I don't get anything accomplished.  Stephanie, if you're reading this, know that your work is so wonderful.  I wish there were more of it!)

Which brings me to the reason for this post.  I listened to Tobias read Stephanie's fabulous New Yorker story "Dog Heaven" again for the umpteenth time this morning.  What an amazing story!  It makes me cry multiple times every time.  And the theme of loyalty is so subtle but so surprising.  The instances she chooses to include you wouldn't think hang together, but then they do, they do so much it hurts!

You should absolutely go listen to it right now.  Again and again.  And then go buy both their stuff!

(I now see that Stephanie's collection Sweet Talk is out there, but out of print.  I just ordered a used copy.)

Question of the Day:  Do you have a favorite author that just has a little bit out there and then nothing?