Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Okay. Let's Go Over This Purge Business Again

We're on Day 13 of this year's October purge. As you can see, we're not quite halfway through the month, and the dreck we don't need is piling up.

What Does Stripping Your Environment Of Unnecessary Material Items Have To Do With Managing Time?

Last year I wrote about the Environmental Disorder Leads to Self-Regulatory Failure study. I found the following quote related to it: " ...people who sat by a messy desk that was scattered with papers felt more frustrated and weary and took nearly 10% longer to answer questions in a color-and-word-matching task, in comparison with those who were seated by a neatly arranged desk."

Okay, you may say. That's a good reason to purge my desk. But why the whole house?

Because many writers work in our homes. Many writers also have day jobs or families or both. We don't have all the time in the world to write to begin with. If our extended environment is causing frustration and weariness, impairing self-regulation, that's going to impact how effectively we can use our time.

There are all kinds of of nonwork-related reasons for getting rid of material things you don't use. But we only deal with time here, so I'll pass on that.

I have fifteen more days of stuff to get out of this place. We haven't gotten to the big stuff yet.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Getting Books Out Into The World

Today author Sandra Horning made the first of three unique appearances she has scheduled for this month. She wasn't at a bookstore or a literary festival. She wasn't at a professional conference.

She was at Pumpkintown, USA in East Hampton, Connecticut. Next Sunday, she'll be at Rose's Berry Farm in South Glastonbury from 10 to 12 and at Lapsley's Orchard in Pomfret Center from 2 to 4.

Her recent book, The Biggest Pumpkin, is about a big fruit. Fruit...orchards, farms, pumpkintowns...you can see the logic here, right?

With traditional bookstore appearances, writers are relying on readers coming to them. Readers don't always show up. Believe me. I've been there. With appearances at places like Pumpkintown, however,  writers are going to readers. Writers are the ones who show up.

Now, one could argue that people who do turn up at traditional author events are more likely to be committed readers and more likely to buy books. However, there are a finite number of them, whereas the number of books out there seems to go on and on and on. When authors appear at an orchard, farm, or pumpkintown, they're putting themselves out in front of all kinds of people. Some of them may be committed readers, some of them may not. Some of them may be readers who just don't go to book fairs or book festivals. Some of them may have a big interest in, say, pumpkins, but haven't heard of your pumpkin book. And now they have. Authors going out to potential readers in this way gives those potential readers opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have.

At some of these nontraditional (at least for writers) events, you may see much larger crowds than you will at a bookstore. That was certainly the case today. These pictures don't do justice to the number of people who were at Pumpkintown at lunchtime. In the background of the picture to the left, you can see cars parked on a hill. No, the garden center where this is held doesn't normally need the parking across the road. It doesn't normally need to hire a police officer to stop traffic for pedestrians the way it does on its six Pumpkintown weekends. The more people, the greater the potential for sales. The more people, the greater the potential for readers discovering a book, whether they buy it that day or not.

But someone has to bring the book to them.

Authors Janet Lawler and Leslie Bulion have also made appearances at orchards or fairs to support books with links to those types of places.

You may find authors anywhere.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Weekend Writer: Writers' Associations

Wow. Two months since I've done a Weekend Writer. Well, I've had a few Weekend Writer-worthy bits tucked away for a while now. Today, my lads and lasses, we will discuss one of them, writers' associations. I've been thinking about them lately, because I've been talking for the last couple of months with a very new writer.

What Are Writers' Associations?

What I'm referring to here are associations organized to support writers and provide them with professional services. Of course, the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators comes immediately to mind. So does the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and  Romance Writers of America. These groups could be said to be developed around genre. Others, like Pen America, are more general.

The website Writers and Editors maintains a list of major writers' organizations, as well as a list of local and regional organizations.

What Are The Benefits Of Joining A Writers' Association?

Training. Some of these organizations offer conferences and workshops covering process, marketing, and the publishing business. Expect some offerings to be better than others, by which I mean you may not find every workshop you attend at a particular conference to be stellar. You have to glean, hunting for the usable info among the not-so-usable. Some writers' associations also act as "clearing houses" for writers' groups, directing members to groups in their geographical area or on-line. An association sponsored writers' group may have members with more writing experience or training than one that has formed in other ways.

Specific Services. Some of these organizations can connect members with assistance in dealing with contracts or making connections with professionals such as editors or web designers.

Community/networking/finding your tribe. If you've connected with an association that runs programs, attending them will give you opportunities to meet other writers. Meeting authors who are both at your career point and beyond it is important. You can get both support and information from these types of people. Some associations may sponsor listservs and Facebook pages for members where information can be shared and you can "meet" other writers.

A personal community isn't built over night. You have to expect this to take some time.

When Should You Join A Writers' Association?

It depends on what you're looking for and probably on the writers' association. The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, for instance, is well-known for working with new, unpublished writers. Someone interested in children's writing might gain a lot from joining right away. (I didn't join until after I'd published a couple of books. If I'd known more about the organization, I might have joined earlier.) Other associations may be better at working with more established writers.

Think about the following: 

  • Do you want training right away?
  • Do you want to have completed some writing before you look for other writers?
  • Are you comfortable with identifying as a writer to strangers at this point, whether you have published anything or not?
  • Will training and meeting other writers help make you feel like a writer, feel as if you're part of that world? Do you want that now?
  • Do you feel comfortable spending money on a writers' association membership fee at this point? If you can't afford conferences and workshops now, do you feel you'll be gaining enough from what the association offers its members to justify the basic membership expense?

Even if you aren't interested in joining a writers' association now, or ever, it could be a good idea to do some research on some. Just their informational material may be useful.

Friday, October 09, 2015

What Did You Do Last Week, Gail? October 9 Edition

Goal 1. Mummy Book. Why look at my original goal for this from back in January--It was "Complete a draft of the so-called mummy book," which I've done. This week I worked on a revision of the first three chapters.

Goal 2. Short work. I read an essay on writing character-driven flash fiction, which gave me an idea for revising one of my flashes. Which is kind of like working on short fiction.

Goal 4. Make Submissions. I signed up for a networking program with agents and editors. That's sort of getting ready to make submissions.

Goal 7. General Marketing/Branding. I finalized arrangements to do a Preparing for NaNoWriMo program at an elementary school later this month. I also went back to doing some weekly Twitter maintenance, welcoming new followers and thanking others for retweets and favorites. And, finally, I'm trying to get into a Monday habit for planning how I can use the blog over the course of the week, which upcoming posts can be shared and where.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Vacation Amish Vampire Story

I bought  Chosen, The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy, Book 1 by Barbara Ellen Brink some time ago. It was either on sale or free. (The Kindle edition is free now.) I was intrigued by the idea of a vampire/Amish mash-up. And, as I said,  the book was either on sale or free. How could I pass it up?

 It sat in my Kindle until we were in the Amishland of Indiana while on our midwest tour last month. After a couple of days of being surrounded by buggies, I remembered that I could be reading about Amish vampires. 

Chosen is a very traditional teen paranormal story about a girl who is unaware that her parents escaped with her from their Minnesota Amish community. But they didn't leave because they were hoping for a life with Internet access and a clothes dryer. No, they hauled out of there because vampires had taken over and their daughter was the one chosen to fight them. Jael is trained by her father and uncle in martial arts, though she doesn't know why. A hot Native American guy at her high school has a connection to the whole thing. And a cute friend with a car needs to be saved.

I wish there had been a lot more Amish and Amish culture to compare/contrast/clash with the standard high-school-student-finds-out-she's-special story line. Jael's family doesn't live in an Amish community but in rural Nevada. There's talk about the Amish once her parents 'fess up about what's going on. But we don't see any for quite a while. And then they're just bad guys in funny clothes. They also drive a truck and use a cell phone, which isn't what I was expecting from a book with "Amish" in the title. Of course, if you can accept that they're vampires, trucks and phones shouldn't be such a stretch. Additionally, though, I kept wondering where the father and uncle, having been brought up in an Amish world, got their knowledge of fighting, since the Amish are said to follow a policy of non-resistance to conflict.

The Amish world-building was on the weak side for me.

The Amish Bloodsuckers Trilogy has been completed, for those who like to binge read. In fact, the whole trilogy is available in a Kindle edition as well as in individual paper-and-ink books.

A little something I learned as a result of reading this book--I kept wondering why the author located the Amish community involved in the story in Minnesota. I knew there were significant Amish communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana,  so why not place her Amish in one of those states? Honestly, I thought she was making the Minnesota thing up.

Not at all. There are Amish communities in Minnesota, and what is particularly interesting about them is that they were founded in the 1970s. I was surprised to see that happening so recently. However, Amish communities keep growing each generation, and since they are primarily farmers, they have to keep spreading out to find more land.

Or maybe they have to keep moving because there are vampires among them.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: So I Guess The Purge Is Going To Be An Annual Thing

I am sure you all remember last year's October Purge chez moi. It did not involve ridding myself of people who didn't agree with me. Nope. Can't help you with that. What the October Purge was about was imposing order, working on the theory that maintaining  order in your physical surroundings helps to maintain order of other kinds--self-regulation, self-discipline, willpower.

Quite honestly, I hadn't given a lot of thought to doing this again this year. But someone else who lives here was psyched to do it. And now the fire has been lit under me.

The October Purge was inspired by an essay about Joshua Fields Millburn, who got rid of one possession a day for a month. We're doing a variation this year, because two of us are getting rid of one item a day. And, for novelty, by which I mean, fun, we're making a heap of this stuff to get a nice visual of what two items a day for thirty days looks like.

Here is the difference between Day One and Day Five.

Purge 2015 Day One
Purge 2015 Day Five

Check back to see how we do with this. You know I will keep you informed.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Vacation Little Women Story

I'll have been home from vacation for a whole week tomorrow, yet I still have so many things to say about it.

Okay, sometime during the first week we were away, we were biking at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in Michigan. Halfway through that sixteen-mile trip, we stop for lunch at this great town. So while we're waiting for our order, we take a little peek at our cellies, and I check out the blog, since I'm working on the Blogging the Limberlost feature. I see a comment from Jeannine Atkins, which I respond to. That's sort of like talking to her, while not being like that at all, of course.

                                                      So after we eat, we take a walk up the lovely street we're on and stop at The Cottage Book Shop. This is quite an impressive place because it appears so small from the street but goes on and on once you're inside.  It's an independent bookstore with very nice offerings.

But here is the amazing part of this story: As we were headed out of the store, what do I see but Jeannine Atkins' new book Little Woman in Blue! I had just been commenting with her! What were the odds? I was seeing things about that book all over the place just then, and there was the book, itself, in front of me, at this very nice bookstore.

I had eight miles left of my bike trip, some of which I expected to be very difficult. I didn't want to be carrying any extra weight. So I took this picture instead of buying the book.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Who Am I To Judge? Well...

I'm a Cybils judge, that's who I am. This year I am a Round 2 Judge in the Middle Grade Fiction category. Among the people I'll be working with is my old blogging buddy Alex Waugh. (Old as in we've "known" each other a while, in that blogging buddy way.)

Nominations opened today and will remain open until October 15.  Anyone can nominate, and here is this year's nomination form.

The nominations have already started coming in. You can keep checking back to watch the lists grow.

That is one of the beauty's of this award, in my humble opinion. Many book awards are a mystery, the books considered kept secret. With the Cybils, readers can see which books readers liked enough to nominate, and sometimes they can even read reviews from judges. It opens up a lot more options for readers.

Go forth and enjoy this year's Cybil season.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

October Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Holy Smoke! I had to work on this thing in motel rooms, so, of course, there were all kinds of appearances this month to keep me busy. The CASL/CECA conference at the end of the month is for two professional groups, but is included in the calendar because of the large number of New England authors who will be featured there. Most of us won't be able to go see them, but it's cool to know they're there.

Thursday, Oct. 1, Holly Goldberg Sloan, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5 PM

Friday, Oct. 2, Alan Katz, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 4:30 PM

Saturday, Oct. 3,Karin LeFranc, Barnes & Noble, Manchester 11 AM

Saturday, Oct. 3, Jane O'Connor, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 3 PM

Saturday, Oct. 3, Linda Laudone, Bank Square Books, Mystic 1 to 3 PM

Sunday, Oct. 4, Cece Bell, New Canaan Library, New Canaan, 3 PM 

Monday, Oct. 5, Karma Wilson, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 4:30 PM 

Wednesday, Oct. 7, Christine Pakkala, Barnes & Noble, Westport 7 PM

Thursday, Oct. 8, Kenneth Oppel, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5:30 PM

Thursday, Oct. 8, Matt Davies, Wilton Library (sponsored by Elm Street Books), Wilton 4 PM

Friday, Oct. 9, Gail Carson Levine, R. J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 5 PM

Monday, Oct. 12, 19, 26, Pegi Deitz Shea, Mark Twain House, Hartford 6 to 8 PM  Six-week class with registration fee.

Monday, Oct. 12, Sandra Horning, Paul's & Sandy's Too, East Hampton 11 to 1 PM

Saturday, Oct. 17, Karin LeFranc Barnes & Noble, Milford 11 AM 

Saturday, Oct. 17, Karin LeFranc, Barnes & Noble, Enfield 1 PM

Sunday, Oct. 18, Karin LeFranc, Simsbury Public Library, Simsbury 2 to 4 PM
Sunday, Oct. 18, Sandra Horning, Rose's Berry Farm, South Glastonbury 10 AM to 12 PM
Sunday, Oct. 18, Sandra Horning, Lapsley Orchard, Pomfret Center 2 to 4 PM
Saturday, Oct. 24, Karin LeFranc, Barnes & Noble, Canton 2 PM

Monday, Oct. 26, Laura WoollettConnecticut Association of School Librarians/Connecticut Educators Computer Association Joint Conference, Mohegan Sun, Uncasville  Other authors appearing: Elise Broach, Leslie Bulion, Katie L. Carroll, Deborah Ann Davis, Mark Edlitz, Sarah Darer Littman, Michaela MacColl, Page McBrier, Hannah McKinnon, Jennifer Moncuse, Christine Pakkala, Dana Meachen Rau, Susan Ross, Pegi Deitz Shea, and Gail Whitmore.
Thursday, October 29, Karin LeFranc,  R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison 10:30 AM
Saturday, October 31, Karin LeFranc, Barnes & Noble, Stamford 1 PM

UPDATED October 1, 2015 with new appearances.