Novel in Six Words

08/22/2011

Handsome man. Killer smile. Graveyard’s full.

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Driven to Love By Denise Meyers

08/08/2011

Driven to Love is more than the title of a book written by Denise Meyers, a Pennwriters Past President and friend to every writer she ever met. It is also a fitting description of how she lived.

Her family and friends know what I’m talking about. Her strength, tempered by a not-so- well- disguised vulnerability was equally matched by a quick wit and warmheart that drew people to her wherever she went.

It was with great sorrow that I learned of her death on August, 4, 2011.

Whenever I walk to the halls of a writer’s conference I will think of her. When I hear a group of people burst into laughter during a writing workshop I will hear her laugh ringing through the room. When an aspiring writer announces a first sale I know she will be celebrating along with him and, more than likely, nudging any nearby angels to join in the celebration.

When one of us hops online to announce a rejection letter or share a moment of doubt hers will be the voice we hear in our mind urging us to keep trying, reminding us that an acceptance letter or book contract can happen at any time, but only if you keep writing and continue to submit.

If we are lucky we are privileged to meet someone who truly inspires us on the road to publication. A mentor who doesn’t pretend it’s easy but does everything that can be done to help us find the tools we need to succeed. Through Pennwriters, I am blessed to know many people like that. Denise was the first and I will never forget her. Rest in Peace my friend.

Driven to Love by Denise Meyers is avaialble in ebook form on Kindle and Nook.

Summer Writing Camp for Kids – Some Results

08/01/2011

Kids pull no punches when asked for commentary and sometimes they volunteer their comments without being asked.

Three weeks ago I taught my first summer writing workshop for kids ages 7-12. It was a weeklong writing camp held at a local community center. For three hours each morning I tried my best to convince 19 kids that being inside with me was more interesting than playing outside with their friends or participating in the Minute-To-Win-It camp across the hall.

Sometime midday on the first day one of the kids asked my why I have a boy’s name. Whoever formatted the sign-in log each child and parent had to sign each morning had listed my name as Ms. Bobbi at the top of the page.

I’ve been asked that question by kids for as long as I can remember, starting with my grade school classmates. I explained as I alway have,  that some names, depending on the spelling, can be used by boys and girls. Bobbi with an “i” is a rare but not unheard of nickname for Barbara, my given name.  And besides, I look like a girl so it’s not a problem.

“Except for that hair,” one observant boy commented to the approval of the rest of the class. Clearly they had been wondering why my hair is so short. I was happy  to tell them about the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and how my husband and I participated in a fundraising event to raise money for research into a cure  for cancer in children. In support of the cause we had volunteered to have our heads shaved.

“I was completely bald then,” I said. “What’s up there now is a lot longer than it was a few weeks ago.”

“Cool,” seemed to be the consensus in the room after that.  And they seemed to settle into the rhythm of creative writing a lot easier when I brought in a photo of Bald Bobbi the next day and we talked about the stories we could write based on that picture.  They accepted me, funny name, weird hair, and all. And I accepted their comments no matter what.

When, at the end of camp, the time came to ask them and their parents to fill out a comment sheet, I trusted them to tell it like it is. They did.

You Are the BEST!  – by Enzo

It’s Good. – Rithvik

This was the BEST! She always gives new things to help us write. When I first got there I was a bit confused, but the next day it was great! Maybe I will sign up next year. –  Joe

I now know how to write a book with chapters. I also learned a lot of skills. – Simran

I wish my Grandma had signed me up for something else. – Nicholas  (Oh well, you can’t win them all and I did ask for the truth.)

Next week I meet a new group of kids for fice days of writing camp. I hope they are looking forward to it as much as I am.

Pennwriters Offers Another Great Online Course

07/18/2011

PROMOTIONAL BASICS: GETTING THE WORD OUT, WHEN YOUR WORDS COME OUT:

INSTRUCTOR: Babs Mountjoy
DATE: August 1 – September 2, 2011
LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now. Go to www.pennwriters.com

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
Congratulations! Your book or project has just been published. Now comes the real work: making sure your audience can find your book, purchase it, enjoy it and share it with others, bringing you fame and fortune! Most publishers want to hear about your platform, which includes a website, blog, or other publicity method to sell and promote your product or book across the world.

The internet and social media are great methods to share your news and can go a long way toward reaching your potential audience. This online course will teach you the basics of publicity and marketing, some old tricks and some new tricks, to make your new release a real success.

* 4 most important things to include when developing a website
* Discover a variety of ways to get your work noticed online and offline
* Blog tours: how to get one started and why they’re a great way to spread your name
* Freebies and giveaways to attract readers and followers
* Setting up personal appearances and book signings (Have a program in mind, not just a chair behind a table)

FREE BONUS: A list of 50 sites where writers can submit their books for review.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Barbara “Babs” Mountjoy has been writing ever since she was a little girl, unable to control the urge of stories that wanted to percolate through her fingers into the keyboard. Or back then, onto the old Royal typewriter (before the TRS-80 even! Wow!). She’s been a published writer for over 35 years, spent seven years as a news reporter and editor in South  Florida, and has contributed stories to two CUP OF COMFORT volumes. Her non-fiction book 101 LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE was published by Impact Publishers in 1999, and her first novel, THE ELF QUEEN (under the pen name Lyndi Alexander) came out in 2010. THE ELF QUEEN is the first of the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, with THE ELF CHILD coming out in 2011 and THE ELF MAGE to be released in 2012.  Her romantic suspense novel DELIVERANCE will be released by the Wild Rose Press in 2011, and her women’s fiction book SECOND CHANCES comes out from Zumaya Publications in 2012. She blogs about autism, writing and life at http://awalkabout.wordpress.com, and continues to write tech articles and TV reviews at Firefox News online. For more information on Babs Mountjoy or this course, email her at <a href=”mailto: <!– var prefix = ‘mailto:’; var suffix = ”; var attribs = ”; var path = ‘hr’ + ‘ef’ + ‘=’; var addy46632 = ‘bmountjoy’ + ‘@’; addy46632 = addy46632 + ‘zoominternet’ + ‘.’ + ‘net’; document.write( ‘‘ ); document.write( addy46632 ); document.write( ” ); //–> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it <!– document.write( ” ); //–> “>
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.

Two Paws Up and a Snap for Rewriting.

07/11/2011

I am very  excited to announce that my book, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, is named A Best Dog Book for Young Readers in the latest issue of Cesar’s Way Magazine. Cesar being Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer, of TV fame.

In honor of the dog theme you may catch me  doing a  spontaneous Snoopy Happy Dance at any moment throughout the coming weeks.

The idea for the Storee Wryter series had been percolating in my creative mind for several years. In fact, the original version of Storee Wryter was very different from the one now available in print, e-book and audio book form.  It was intended as picture book suitable for kids in kindergarten to first grade. The illustrations were clip art and the cover was a self-portrait drawn on card stock. I printed a few copies on my office printer and stapled the pages together.  Then I approached local schools for an opportunity to present the story to a classroom full of kids.

Somehow I pulled it off. I remember being incredibly nervous the day I faced nineteen shining young faces. I was dressed in the same outfit Storee Wryter was wearing in the book.  In the current book Storee represents me at the age of eight. The age I was when I started writing. In the original version Storee was pictured as an adult. I thought it would be a great hook to have the character in the book come to life when doing a reading or book signing.

Most of the kids seemed to enjoy the simple story and I was very pleased when they realized that I was Storee Wryter. However, there was one little critic in the audience  who let me know he felt the story was lame. He rolled his eyes and yawned throughout the reading and when I asked the class if they liked the book he responded with an emphatic, “no.”  That one little voice stayed with me long after I left his school that day. Despite the fact that I knew I had a good concept, I had to agree that something wasn’t quite right and so it sat in my files and in the back of my mind waiting for me to figure out what the problem was.  Eventually I scrapped the orignal version.  Storee Wryter was conceived, in part, to inspire kids to write. I wanted to show them that creativity can be a lifelong passion and that they are natural story tellers now.

That’s when I realized that Storee should be their age. I wrote at eight-years-old. I used the things I knew in everyday life as inspiration. In this new version she would too. Excited by this new inspiration I crafted a completely new story including Crtitique, Storee’s cat, and Addie, a therapy dog in training, providing both Storee and the young readers with inspiration for their writing at the end of each chapter. I  also included writing prompts in the back of the book to encourage the kids to write about their own pets, real or imagined, and send them to Storee on her website or blog.  I was very pleased and thought I was done.  I wasn’t. It took many months and  another complete rewrite suggested by my editor, involving writing for an audience the same age as Storee and expanding the book into a sixty page chapter book,before it was ready to go into production.

Holding the first printed copy in my hands was a moment I will never forget. Receiving  a glowing comment in Cesar’s Way Magazine not only has me dancing in my kitchen, it reconfirmed my belief that the concept is a good one. There will be more Storee Wryter books with Critique as a continuing character.  It was also and excellent reminder that  good writing is, in reality, re-writing. I’m thankful that I listened to my young critic and my wise editor and didn’t stop writing until the book was truly finished.

My question of the week: Have you worked and reworked an idea to finally rewrite it into exactly what you hoped it would be? If so, please tell us what you did and how the story changed through the process.

Now for a short commercial break: Please help me inspire young writers by purchasing a  signed copy of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog for a young reader in your family or donate a copy to a library or charity promoting literacy in your community. To place and order go to: www.storeewryter.com

It’s Been Longer Than A Week

07/07/2011

My intentions were good. I planned on being very good about dates and deadlines and all those things.  I’m pleased to say that writing got in the way. Not the actual putting words on paper or clicking keys on keyboard kind of writing, but the very productive the voices of my characters are talking to me, sort of writing.

I can see the page where I left off and my fingers are itching to get started again. One would think I would be doing that instead of this but that’s not how it works for me. There’s an intangible sense of knowing that comes over me when the time is right. Once that happens I know the words will flow and the story will take shape. Until then I keep my hand in by submitting short stories written months ago or trying out a new market. I teach writing workshops and do readings, all of which I’ve done since the last time I posted here.

At times like this writing is work. However, when the words and ideas are truly flowing writing is like soaring. I know I have to be aware of my surroundings so I don’t crash but the free flow of ideas is such a delight the experience becomes effortless.

Is it like that for you? Do you soar and come to rest in intervals as I do? If not, what does it feel like when the story begins to unfold?

***

I am pleased to say that the work of writing is showing some results as well.  Two of my short stories are scheduled for publication in the online magazine Eerie Digest www.eeriedigest.com Sweet Revenge will appear in the September issue and The Marriage Contract will appear in the October issue.  I like these quirky pieces. Each shows a darker side to this author first published in anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort and who is now the author of a book for young readers, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, www.storeewryter.com

Do you have multiple writing personalities as I do or is your writing entirely focused on one genre?  I look forward to reading your answers. Until next time, write away!

Versatile Blogger Award Leads to Startling Revelation About Past Sins

06/29/2011

 

I want to thank  my friend and fellow member of Penwwriters, Clar Bowman -Jahn for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Until I received it I didn’t know anything about this award. Now that I do, I’m honored to have been chosen and will promptly comply with the obligations that go with acceptance.  Those being to nominate five others for the award and to share seven little known facts about me.

The nominees are:

Help Kyria Help Them

Dixianne Hallaj

Annette Dashofy

Lisa Kastner

Heidi Ruby Miller

Seven little known facts about me:

  1.  I wish I could still climb trees.
  2. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I always answered, ” brain surgeon.”  I was captivated by Dr. Ben Casey on TV.
  3.  Sometimes when I went to confession I’d make up sins so the priest wouldn’t be disappointed that I didn’t have much to say.
  4.   I wish I had a best friend who knew me when I was  shy and geeky and liked me anyway.   
  5. When it comes to martinis it’s imperative I remember that one is not enough and three is too many. Unfortunately the first one tastes so good I want the second and once I have the second I forget the rest of that saying.
  6.  I was more afraid of my mother than the uncle who molested me so I didn’t dare tell her what he was doing.
  7.  When my husband has to be away overnight I sleep with a light on in the bedroom AND in the bathroom.

Welcome Back – To Me That Is

06/14/2011

I hope you’ve missed me. I haven’t written a blog  since I left to go to the Pennwriters Conference. I didn’t expect to be gone so long and I apologize for that.  I was not feeling well when I left. When I tried to speak my voice sounded more like a bull frog than me. I probably should have stayed home but I was scheduled to present a two-day workshop and be a panelist at a read and critique session and I didn’t want to leave the wonderful organizers in the lurch.

Each day I that passed I felt worse and as soon as the sessions were over for the day I want to room, took my medicine and went to bed. I missed socializing with all the people I look forward to seeing each year, including Jonathan Maberry.  I spent each night coughing and getting very little sleep and I want to thank those who attended my workshop for being so understanding and moving as close to the front of the room as possible in order to hear me.  Not only wa my voice nearly inaudible but I know the presentation itself was not as good as it should have been. Please give me another chance next year. I promise a more energetic event.

When I arrived home my wonderful husband greeted me with a big hug and told me to get into bed (he had already turned down the covers for me). Soon after I settled in he brought up a tray with another dose of medicine, a bowl of soup, a cup of tea, and just in case tea wasn’t what I wanted, a glass of wonderfully soothing ice water. Is it any wonder I love that man so much?

A simple throat infection doesn’t usually hit me so hard but I had been working almost nonstop for months and the combination of the bug and exhaustion did me in. It took me two weeks to begin to feel good again. During that time I sat on the couch completely unmotivated and letting everything go. When I finally looked at my email again there were over 1,400 messages waiting for me. Most of them writing contest entries from kids across the country that had to be read and sorted in time to announce the winners and launch the next contest. It made me tired again just looking at my in-box.

I’m trying hard to learn from that experience and not take on so much, but I have to tell you so far, it’s not working.  In about fifteen minutes I’ll head out to Bull Run Elementary School in Centreville, VA  for an author visit to two fourth grade classes. I will do the same thing tomorrow and Friday for a total of six classes in three days. There is no way I’ll ever pass up a chance to talk to 180 kids and share the magic of story telling.

I have given up on the goal of writing a blog  day for the rest of the year.  I’m going to try a weekly blog and see how that goes.  See, I’m taking on less work after all.

Almost Time to Go Home – Closing Day at the Conference

05/15/2011

I’ll be teaching part two of my workshop:

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (Part II) With Bobbi CarducciParticipants in Part I (Fri @ 1:30) can share what they wrote and receive feedback.

Then taking this one. I need all the help I can get with marketing and publicity.

No-Nonsense Publicity with Bill Peschel

Intimated by self-promotion? Blanch at writing a marketing plan? Unaware of the options? Bill had to spend as much time promoting his book as he did in writing it and developed a new approach to publicity. Learn where to begin with web sites, social networks, advertising and local coverage.

After that will be the silent auction and closing ceremony before heading home to Michael. I can hardly wait to walk in to his arms and get a big hug and sniff his neck.

Saturday at the Conference –

05/14/2011

Where you’ll find me today during the Pennwriters Conference.

Drafting the Nonfiction Book Proposal with Deanna Adams Submitting an appealing book proposal is key to getting your nonfiction book published. Learn step-by-step how to put yours together so you can win over the agent or publisher of your choice.

Life Balance for Writers with Anne Grenville

Writing, learning, promoting — how to squeeze it all into your busy life? Many writers focus on what comes easily and ignore what’s outside their comfort zone, yet to be successful we must find time to do it all. This session will you define necessary elements of your writing life and balance your time for greater success.

Perfect Pitch with agent Rachel Coyne (Vater)

Being able to condense your story into a concise yet compelling statement is essential in promoting your book to agents, editors and readers. Come learn from this agent how to craft a single paragraph that packs a punch. Bring your pitch to share and be critiqued!

Creating a Low-Budget Book Trailer with Gwyn Cready

Like a preview to a movie, a book trailer can excite and audience and promote book sales. Find out how to make one without breaking the bank and utilize it effectively online.