Thursday, September 22, 2022

A Series Of Virtual Events

Author Kacen Callender has a whole series of virtual events coming up this month in support of their book Lark & Kasim Start a Revolution. Callender is a National Book Award winner, so I might have been expected to hear of them, but hadn't. I have now and will remember the name, because marketing, including virtual marketing, works. At least in terms of name recognition.



Tuesday, September 20, 2022

I've Been Working On This Thing For THREE Years!

I was just hunting for my blog post on E. Lockhart's book We Were Liars, and saw that in it I mention that I was "beginning a new project, a YA mystery or thriller." That post was dated Sept. 19, 2019, three years ago yesterday.

I'm still working on that so-called new project! I've been working on it three @#!! years!

I do think I'm on the last quarter of the book, though. 

In my defense, I did spend a lot of time in 2020 and 2021 on short form work that I published on Medium.  And I'm pretty sure someone in the family had a baby in 2020 and a couple of people had surgery in 2021. 

It was well worth my time to look up that blog post, because I learned there that I own the e-book edition of We Were Liars, which is good, because I want to read it again. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Here I Am Raving About Zoom Opportunities Again

I go everywhere from here.
This past week, I attended two Zoom events. Within 22 hours, in fact. The lead-up to how I attended them illustrates one of the terrific things about Zoom opportunities.

  • Wednesday was a hiking day here. I got back to the house at 5, took a shower, tossed back some dinner, and sat down at 6 to watch children's literature historian Leonard Marcus's lecture on the history of Little Golden Books hosted by the Northern Illinois University art museum. It was excellent. And free, but that's not the point.
  • On Thursday morning a family thing for that evening was cancelled. Part way through the day I realized that that freed me up to attend an agent panel on Zoom sponsored by the Society of Children's Book Writers for its members. It was also very good. And free to me, but, again, not the point.
Attending these things was effortless. I didn't even have to preregister for them. I didn't even dry my hair before the Marcus lecture. When my head popped up in a box on my screen, I just ran to the bathroom next door and made a quick braid. There was no getting ready and driving somewhere. There was no having to plan my day around going to a lecture or a panel discussion in the evening. I got the benefit of  all this content at my convenience, tucked into a spot in my day.

What's more, the speakers and panelists clearly were taking part from all over the place. They hadn't had to plan for days that they were going to have to travel somewhere to speak for an hour and then get themselves back home. A 60- or 90-minute event truly was a 60- or 90-minute event for them. 

Margaret Atwood is speaking at my alma mater in Vermont next month. I'm registered to attend it virtually. Another freebie for me. Later today I'll be registering for my first workshop of the fall. I admit I'll have to pay a modest amount for that. But I'll be signing up for the virtual option, so I won't have to leave Connecticut to go to the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio to attend.

Digital events, often brought to us on Zoom, have the potential to bring so much into lives. I think some people may feel negatively about them, because they associate Zoom with the pandemic. But they are a positive the pandemic unintentionally brought us. It forced us to truly think outside the box and move forward technologically. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Time Management Tuesday: The Struggle For Blogging Time, Or, Another Blog Bites The Dust

Last week it came to my attention that after sixteen years Julie Danielson is calling it a day with her well-known and highly-regarded childlit blog 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Who is left of the group I knew from before 2010? Ms Yingling Reads, for one. Author Tanita Davis was blogging at Finding Wonderland from 2005 and is presently posting at her own blog {fiction, instead of lies}. Anybody else? Anybody?

In her farewell post, Jules says some things that help explain why litblogging's moment has passed.

  •  "It has truly been a struggle lately to find the time." "There are other things I'd like to get back to doing, new things I want to try, and people I want to spend more time with." 
  •  "...most people stopped leaving comments at blogs and started leaving comments about blog posts at social media sites where posts are shared (this is a thing now)"

Time


Blogging is time consuming, and 7 Imps must have been particularly time consuming, because Jules did extensive reviews (I do what I call "reader responses," which means whatever I want it to mean, and I often mean "short.") and interviews. It can be hard to justify that time, especially if you need to generate income with some kind of work, writing or not, and your blog brings nothing in. Even writers who blog rarely make money directly from the blog. Theoretically, readers will be so taken with our blog posts that they will go out and buy one of our books, and we'll get our cut of that somewhere down the road. Note that I said, "theoretically." 

If your blog leads to blog-related involvement like, in my case, covering local author appearances or, in Jules' case, attending the Bologna Book Fair and a great many other things, that's more time.

We all have to accept the 24-hour-in-a-day limitation. 

Engagement

As Jules also said, people have stopped leaving comments or, probably, visiting and reading posts at all. I know I am very limited in what I read at blogs, because of time and because so many of the blogs I used to interact with are gone. Who would I read? But just as it's hard to continue blogging for free, it's hard to continue blogging without engagement. 

Money and engagement are similar things. Feedback. Feedback is what justifies use of time.

Julie Danielson used her time well with 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast, and I'm sure she'll continue to use it well with all the freelance writing work she does.

Let's Finish By Making This All About Gail


In 2008, the year my last book was published, Jules interviewed me for 7 Imps. I had not seen the post in years. She made me sound great. You can definitely get a feel for how much work and time she put into that blog. I'd like to send a link to this thing to every agent and editor I contact and have it posted in my obituary.

Friday, September 09, 2022

A Nineteenth Century Couples Mystery For YA

 I often have a reason for picking up the books I do, one that goes beyond, "Gee, that looks good." I chose Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz, because it sounds similar to the various adult mystery series I've read that are set in the nineteenth century with a male and female lead who meet somehow, get involved with solving a mystery, one thing leads to another, and romance ensues. Also, not to leave anything to the imagination here, sex.

That pretty much is what happens with Anatomy, which involves an aristocratic young woman who wants to break out of her planned life and become a surgeon. In that era, the study of anatomy was becoming significant in the training of doctors. Bodies to study were few and far between, and the medical community supported grave robbers, known as resurrectionists. Sure enough, our heroine gets tangled up with one who provides her subjects for study.

This was a good book, very readable. I'm not a fan of the direction it took at the end, but that definitely is a just-me thing. Additionally, for those of us accustomed to reading these kinds of stories for the adult market, the romance/sex is very tame. To the point that I was left wondering what happened and just what kind of relationship did these two now have. I hope that this doesn't mean that I need no-doubt-about-it sex scenes. It may be more that I struggle to read between the lines.

Whenever I've read of resurrectionists, the stories have been set in Great Britain. Anatomy takes place in Scotland and inspired me to check out if something similar went on in the United States. Oh, my goodness. Did it ever.

Yeah, the nineteenth century American medical community didn't suffer from an abundance of ethics, at least as we would recognize it today. 

And racist? Oh, yes. Though I suppose doctors back then could have argued that they only seemed like racists, because, hey, these are the bodies we could get.

I am so turned off to medicine right now.    

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Virtual Author Events For September

Central Connecticut is exploding with in-person author events over the next couple of weeks. You'd think it was 2019 or something. However, you can still find a few virtual appearances, mainly coming out of the Brookline Booksmith in Massachusetts, for those of you who like to get around without actually getting around. I will update over the course of the month, if I stumble upon anything. 

Monday, Sept. 12, Amy Sarig King, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT  5:30 PM ET 

Wednesday, Sept. 14, Courtney Summers & Sara Farizan, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA 7:00 PM ET

Friday, Sept. 16, Alison Ames and Courtney Gould, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA 7:00 PM ET  

Sunday, Sept. 25, Kacen Callender with Rebecca Kim Wells, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA 11:00 AM ET 

Wednesday, Sept. 28, Jesse Q. Sutanto with Ali Hazelwood, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA 8:00 PM ET

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Time Management Tuesday: September Is A Temporal Landmark. A Big One.

Author, artist, and Facebook friend Dana Meachen Rau  has committed to creating a collage a day during the month of September. A back to collage challenge. (Get it? Back to college?) She's posting her projects on her Facebook page. 

Dana's September plan illustrates two time management techniques we've discussed here.

  • One is that she is using the month of September as what I call a set-aside time.  It's time we set aside for specific tasks. Time we're going to use in a particular way.
  • The other is that she's taking advantage of September being a temporal landmark, a calendar event that creates a fresh start opportunity.

Dana has inspired me to republish, as part of this year's observance of Original Content's twentieth anniversary, a blog post from 2016 on the value of the month of September for managing time. I was on vacation when I wrote that post, which explains the beginning and ending.

When you finish reading this, you may think, oh, I can't do anything with this, because it's already September. I needed to plan ahead. The month of September isn't even half over, people. Run with it.



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time Management Tuesday: Now Is The Time For Change. Hurry!


I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to be blogging until next month. However, I actually read those newspapers hotels provide gratis, and I read something last week that will not keep. It is time sensitive.

First off, I'm sure you all recall that I've written here about the significance of beginnings and endings of units of time.  January, the beginning of a major unit of time, the year, is a big moment here at OC with the creation of goals and objectives.

Well.

Last week The Wall Street Journal carried an article about the end of one unit of time and the beginning of another and how that beginning has become very important. In Now Is the Real New Year, the WSJ reports that September is now "the start of the real new year." It lists masses of ways that September is now outpacing January for people making changes in their lives. And there's a couple of statements that suggest that September works better than January for doing this. "In January, postholiday exhaustion can make New Year's weight-loss resolutions feel even tougher, nutritionists say..." and 69% of respondents in a British survey "believe small improvements in September are easier to achieve than New Year's resolutions."

There's not a lot in this article explaining why this is happening. There's talk of shifting back to routines after the summer and the Jewish New Year coming in the fall. But what is going on that is so big that it blows January, the stereotypical time for changing our behavior and getting started on new projects, out of the water?

My own wild theory is that, at least here in the U.S., we have generations of being enslaved to the school year and its calendar. We're tied to it as students, ourselves, and then those of us who have children are tied to it again when they are students. Teachers are tied to it. Children's writers who do school presentations are tied to it. The school year, which begins in September, has become more meaningful than the calendar year because something truly happens when it begins. January, not so much.

So can we use this sense of a new beginning and a time to get started fresh in our work?

I can't, obviously. I'm on vacation. But maybe you can.


Thursday, September 01, 2022

Connecticut Book Award Finalists Announced

The Connecticut Center for the Book has announced the finalists for the 2022 Connecticut Book Awards, which recognize the best books either about Connecticut or by authors or illustrators from Connecticut.

The Young Readers' categories include a number NESCBWI colleagues

Picture Books-Fiction

  • Soul Food Sunday, Winsome Hudson-Bing
  • Three Pockets Full, Cindy Rodriguez

Picture Books-Nonfiction

  • Bei Bei Goes Home: A Panda Story, Cheryl Bardoe
  • Walrus Song, Janet Lawler

Middle Grade-Nonfiction

  • Fairy Tale Science, Sarah Albee
  • Robo-Motion: Robts That Move Like Animals, Linda Zajac

Middle Grade-Fiction

  • View From Pagoda Hill, Michaela MacColl
  • The Flyers, Beth Turley
  • To Tell You the Truth, Beth Vrabel

Fiction-Young Adult

  • The Secret Life of Kitty Granger, G.D. Falksen
  • Mercury Boys, Chandra Prasad                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Winners will be announced at the Connecticut Book Awards event at the Hartford Public Library on Sunday, October 23.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Beginning To See Pandemic Books

 I stumbled upon Hello (From Here) by Chandler Baker and Wesley King at a library. As my legion of followers know, a romance has to have something going on besides the romance if I'm going to read it. This one does, because it's set during the early months of our pandemic. While I've read, and written, pandemic humor, I haven't read any other kind of fiction that deals with it. 

I have to say, I found a lot of Hello (From Here) stereotypical YA. You've got your dead parent and your absent parent and your financially strapped parent and your illnesses (though they were interesting ones) and your magical old person and your dog. However, the pandemic setting made everything, if not actually new again, at least more interesting. 

Now that dealing with the pandemic (and I am one of those who still deals with it) has become somewhat boring and less restricting, it's already easy to forget the stress and fear of the early days. We're talking about something that happened only two and a half years ago and is still going on to some degree. And, yet,  Baker and King's book almost seems like a historical novel. That's not a complaint. Their book, I think, reflects the incredible speed of what has been happening. 

This is a case of a unique setting and two lead characters who are realistic and intelligent about what's going on around them giving new life to an old situation.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Virtual Writing Class Opportunities

My Classroom
Both Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio and the Off Campus Writers' Workshop in Chicago, Illinois have announced their 2022-2023 writing class schedules. I have a list of two workshops with Thurber and seven with OCWW I'm interested in taking. Without leaving my desk in central Connecticut. 

I've taken classes with both organizations in the past, when they were fully remote. This year it appears that most of the classes will be some kind of  hybrid, so I have no experience to offer on how well that  works. But the prices ($25 to $50) and convenience make them well worth it to me to try some.

Benefits of Zoom Workshops

  • You don't have to limit yourself to workshops in your geographic area, ones that you can actually get your body to. That opens up a great many more options.
  • You don't have to commit time to travel.  
  • You don't have to commit time to conferences, where many writers' workshops are found. I can't be the only person who doesn't want to spend an entire day at a conference in order to take the one workshop being offered that interests me.
  • The workshops at Thurber and OCWW, whether Zoom or in-person, are far cheaper than many traditional workshops. With OCWW workshops, you can bring the price down even more by becoming a member.
  • You may be able to experiment with a workshop on some type of writing you don't normally do because the time and financial commitment are so low.
  • Many of the instructors are not just experienced writers but experienced writing teachers.

The Workshop Schedules


While I won't be attending any of these workshops on-site, I have been to Thurber House