Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Call me a carrot and throw me in the pot

True confession time:

Today I made my third submission to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

One piece was a poem for the Possibilities edition. One was an essay for an issue on Volunteering. And today's was about my cat, Chicken (or was it really about my wife, Diane?)

I must really want to be part of the Soup family. I wonder if buying a carrot suit would help?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Writerly Wisdom from the Newburyport Literary Festival

I wrote about the festival and featured some local authors in the recent issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine. This great photo by Kevin Harkins is of last year's closing panel.
This year's Newburyport Literary Festival was packed as always with more speakers and panels than we were able to attend. It's a great problem to have, and I'm grateful for all the hard work that goes in to making the event so useful, entertaining, varied, and generally wonderful by the festival's team of organizers and volunteers.

I primarily attend talks that focus on the craft of writing, and inevitably capture useful or powerful insights. Here are a few gems from some of these presentations.

Holly Robinson talked about making your readers, laugh, cry, and be amazed. This will now be a goal for every novel I work on. (Which implies I'll survive the one I'm currently slogging through.) I'm currently reading Holly's latest novel, Haven Lake, and am already anticipating tears.

Lorrie Thomson discussed pushing your self-consciousness out of the way so that the truths that lie beneath can come out. I'm reviewing Lorrie's upcoming book, A Measure of Happiness, for Merrimack Valley Magazine's July issue.

In conversation about being a debut author, Katie Shickel informed us that the big 5 publishers produce 95% of traditionally published books.

That shocked me.

She also passed on her agent's wisdom about promotion, saying that authors should spend 80% of their time writing, and 20% promoting. This woman's email signature reads "What are you doing with your 15 minutes today?", which refers to time spent on social media. (The May issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine features my review of Katie's debut novel, Housewitch. Copies should be on newsstands mid-May.)

Iconic children's author Avi reminded us that hard writing makes easy reading. He also stressed the importance of the first line, the first paragraph, and the first page. That's a powerful concept, whether you are trying to catch the attention of agents, editors, or readers.

This is just a tiny taste of the richness offered at the festival. 2015 marked its tenth year. May it see another 100.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Preparing for liftoff!

It's been a long time coming, but I think we are in the final countdown to launching my first children's book. It's the story of a misunderstood doggy hero named Rumplepimple who goes places he shouldn't go and does things he shouldn't do in order to rescue a little girl from her tormentor.

Our proof copy is due to arrive any day. Checking it is the last step in what's been a long and adventurous process. Here's the cover:

We're hoping the red will work, but can't really tell until the proof arrives.

Check back soon for more details!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Palm Sunday Reflection in Impact Magazine

For those of you who participate in the Christian practice of Holy Week, I offer you a reflection on my experience at this week's Palm Sunday service. The piece appeared in the wonderful Impact Magazine.

The Jesus I saw this Sunday