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Friday, March 25, 2011

An Unnecessary Roadblock to Writer Fame and Glory

It never fails to amaze me how difficult writers sometimes make it to contact them. I suppose they could be wary of stalkers--or the same high school classmates they try to ignore on Facebook.

There are plenty of GOOD reasons to make contact info available: agents who've fallen in love with your blog and want to offer you a "Julie and Julia" style book deal, fans who want to praise your latest short story (and who doesn't welcome praise?). There's also me, the blogger, who wants to invite you to guest post.

I made an offer a few weeks ago. The first ten writers to comment on my post would be guest bloggers on A Writer's Jumble. People responded. Interesting people who I would love to talk to, promote, and otherwise fawn over. Here's the problem. I can't reach half of them!

Some had links to profiles that didn't include any kind of contact information. Some had links to blogs that didn't have--any kind of contact information. One had an email that required me to fill in a form before my message would go through. A slight pain, but I understand. I filled out the form and guess what? The program denied me access! I feel so slighted. I'd comfort myself with chocolate but it's a Lenton Friday and I'm Catholic.

I slap my email or website (which includes contact information) on everything I send or post. Call me an extrovert, but isn't that a basic step for writers who want to market themselves? It's a gentle "Here I am. Talk to me."

I would love it if those who commented on my post would send me an email. I thought everyone had interesting things to say based on the blogs and web sites I visited. For instance:

C., you sound like a fascinating woman. Playwright? Poet? Performer? Good golly! How do you do it all? How do you decide what to focus on? Such talent!

C., you lucky devil. You have a book coming out with Oak Tree Press. I LOVE Oak Tree Press! And you're part of a new line of Western Suspense. How cool is that?

G., You are involved in so many things! You write two blogs!! How do you do it? And are you ever embarrassed to write erotic fiction? I know I couldn't do it.


These are some of the fascinating questions you'll have answered if these people contact me!

(To be fair, I found one phone number, but I'm too shy to call someone I've never met unless I'm ordering a pizza.)

Seriously, I would love to find out more about all of you! I'll wait to hear from you, hoping that I do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Hazards of Elementary School Presentations

Remembering back to my own childhood, I would say the most awful presentations I sat through were those that bored my tiny tights off.

With this in mind, when I was asked to do an elementary school presentation as part of World Book Day, I aimed to amuse. I put together an interactive play using my book, "Logical Larry", as a reference. I strung together the various parts of a story and had the children come up and act out the hero, villain, helpmate and such. It played out like "The Twelve Days of Christmas", adding each new role after we discussed it.

While the kids got a few chuckles from their dialogue, which consisted of "Ta-daaa!" (the hero) and "Aargh!" (the villain), I underestimated how long it would take to get kids comfortable goofing off with a stranger. We were over halfway through the presentation before they loosened up. They seemed most excited when I had them sit down and write their own stories. Note to self: Not so much interaction next year.

Fast forward to this year. I thought I had it made. In "The Author's Apprentice", I would have them write their own story along with me. As I went over the importance of obstacles, goals, etc., the kids could fill in their own main character, goals and such and read back what they had written at the end of the evening. I even made up nifty forms for them to use, writing out the entire story except for blank lines that they could fill in. Easy peasy, right?

1. Interruptions

This was an after school event involving parents. You can't make parents line up and march into a classroom. I began ten minutes late with only three sets of child/parent. Ten minutes later, an entire group filed in, and I had to backtrack to get the newcomers caught up. This happened twice more, and the last time, the event photographer came with them. A few minutes more and both parents and children started slipping out, which was a bit of a distraction, but at least I didn't have to restart the presentation.

2. Kids Will Be Kids

I don't have my own children, so I have "sucker" written across my forehead. At least, that's what it felt like. The teacher had supplied a box of sharpened pencils. One boy came up and explained that his was broken and he needed to sharpen it. I almost said yes, but then I saw the frenzied light in his eyes and realized that sharpening pencils represented hours of fun to a young boy. I gave him a replacement and accepted his disdain.

Another child insisted that he had to go look for his mother. She didn't know he was in this class, and she was with his brother somewhere. When he reached the near-tears level, I let him go. The school is locked up, so I didn't worry about him escaping, but I will check out what the school policy is next year.

3. Level of Difficulty

Because the group included children from various classes, I had to aim for the middle grade, and I geared my presentation towards the fourth graders. However, I overestimated their writing skills, and none of the children finished before the end of my class.

Conclusion? I needed more interaction.

Next year, I'm going to go for writing games, maybe with prizes to get their attention right away. And I'll mix in a short writing assignment, such as coming up with a great first sentence. If that fails, I'm going to hire a magician to take my place!

Monday, March 14, 2011

All the Variety I Could Hope For!

Last week, I was in a quandary. As representatives of my blog, how in depth should I screen my guest bloggers? Do they have to agree with my point of view on controversial subjects? Am I furthering the forces of evil if I have on an extremist of any political party? If I'm sceptical of global warming, should I avoid "green" authors? Keeping in mind that I would never allow a member of the Westboro Baptist Church near my site, how do I hang on to my character without living in a hermetically sealed bubble????

I sent out a guest blogging invitation to the first 10 writers to respond to my post. The only subject limits were "No porn. No Politics."  The rest was up to fate.

Three people who dropped by to say hi didn't make the cut, but only because they are authors who have standing invitations--the fabulously talented author of several series, Marilyn Meredeth; the uber-queen of short stories, Kate Thornton; and the mistress of marketing and all things romantic, Jacquee.

What I wound up with was a wonderful variety of writers who cover genres from science fiction to real estate mysteries to erotic fiction with believable heroines. Cool!

I'm looking forward discovering new writers, and I hope you'll stick with me for their posts, which I'll announce once they are scheduled.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

An Invitation to Guest Blog

Anyone who has read me under A Writer's Residence or even on this blog knows that I have a streak of the cheerleader in me. I love to promote other writers and books that I love.

A blog is a reflection of the person who writes it. Readers assume that if my blogs are humorous then I must be a funny gal. Or if I vent one day, people who catch that post will assume I'm cranky. So when it comes to picking a guest to blog, shouldn't that person's writing and opinions etc. be a reflection of me?

I'm not so sure. So I'm going to try an experiment.

The first 10 authors to comment on this page will receive a guest spot on my blog.

Are there limitations? Yes. No porn. No politics. No grossing me out. I reserve the right to refuse if it seems that we aren't a good fit.

Why 10? There are other blogs and author interviews I want to fit into the schedule. (I am so looking forward to interviewing J. Michael Orenduff on his new book!) This way I can sprinkle new authors into the mix.

We'll see if anyone responds.