Hi everybody. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Bend, Oregon. Looking forward to tubing the Deschutes River around lunchtime, but right now I have a few hours to put this summary blog together.
Our July Guild meeting, was wonderful. I think I’m getting spoiled! Our speakers are great, and the audience involvement is really neat — we get to hear from and learn about each other. But even more than that, I’m really delighted by the way some of you are stepping forward and saying, “Hey, I’m interested in doing a Thing. How does this sound…”
Ellyn Wolfe, for example. One day she and her DIL, Angel, were looking at StraitJacketsMagazine.com and Angel, a tech wizard, started fooling around with some new software. Eight hours later (and after donating about a thousand bucks worth of her time), Angel had a mockup of the mag on Squarespace. Ellyn talked with me, Vicki Hitt, Jim Hitt, and Jo Lynne Buehring about making the change. We liked it, so she and Angel set the wheels in motion to convert the mag from Dreamweaver.
At Saturday’s Guild meeting, Ellyn conducted an online tour of the website, using her laptop and the library’s projector and screen (many thanks to Brandon and Hemet Library for your support). It’s quite dazzling, not only in appearance, but also in the potential for raising contributors’ visibility. You can see the new magazine format at StraitJackets.org.
I want to again recognize Jim and Vicki Hitt for developing SJM way back in 2008. It was entirely their project, with Jim doing the editing and formatting, and Vicki sharing her original artwork. SJM stands apart from any other literary magazine I’ve seen. It’s literally a work of art, but we wouldn’t have it had the Hitts not offered to fold the magazine into the Guild.
Important information about our August 26 meeting
Howard Feigenbaum announced the return of our annual celebration of poetry next month. We did this last year in August, and it was so well received. We laughed, we cried, and we cheered for the poetry read by its authors. Howard’s smart and funny. He runs a great meeting. You’ll have a blast.
If you’d like to read (your own work or that of someone else), please email Howard to let him know so he can plan. Here’s his email address: email@example.com.
Important information about our September 23 meeting
Most important thing to know: it won’t be at the library. Our September 23 meeting will consist of the Guild’s first ever Author Book Fair. It will be held at the Diamond Valley Arts Council on Harvard Street from 9 am – 1 pm. George Gurney, a member of the Guild and a Board Member as well, is chairing the event. There are a limited number of spaces available so if you’re a published author and would like to sell your work, contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a small fee to offset the cost of the room: $15 for Guild members and $30 for non-members. George will also schedule up to seven authors to speak/do a reading (15 minutes in length.) For more information, or if you can help by volunteering to bring a table or carry books, etc. please contact George.
To Ellyn, George, and Howard: thank you again for your leadership. You took the initiative, and ran with it. The Guild is lifted by – and I’m so in awe of – your kindness and energy.
Craft tip for the month: When writing character-driven fiction, writing expert and neuroscience fan Lisa Cron says this is the essence of story:
Your character arrives on page one wanting something very badly, but with a misbelief she has to overcome in order to get that thing. Overcoming this internal misbelief is what the story is about.
The plot is constructed to force her to face and overcome that misbelief.
Lisa says the brain is wired for fiction because it was a way to help us stay alive. If our primitive ancestors were sitting around a campfire lamenting the loss of Grok, who ate poisonous red berries, this survival lesson would be better remembered if conveyed with drama, suspense, and emotion. Those (and other story telling elements) would burn the lesson into the brain better than a dull recital of the facts.
Knowing this, write in such a way that your reader will sink into the story and be hooked. If you want to learn more, go to Lisa’s website and sign up for her newsletter. You’ll get lots free tips.
Our speaker, Angie Martin, was terrific!
With her first book, Angie was traditionally published but “hated it.” She now prefers self-publishing because she likes the control and being the boss of her writing business (I feel the same way). She does hire people to do editing, cover design, etc. and her books reflect that professionalism.
Angie says there’s a difference between paranormal and supernatural. In essence, supernatural is “beyond the veil” – angels, ghosts, possession, Ouija boards. Paranormal is about creatures, such as vampires and werewolves.
Angie said a common error made by fiction writers is to think “I can write anything I want,” but you have to follow the rules of your world, whatever world it is. She encouraged us to learn the “lore” of our genre and then be true to it.
In this sense, lore means the rules of the world in which your story exists. For example, if it’s Earth, you can’t ignore gravity (without inventing an offset). Vampires carry with them certain lore (daylight, crosses, blood). A writer must respect the lore, but she can invent ways around it, properly explained.
Angie agreed with most of us that marketing isn’t our first love (we pretty much hate it.) But she spent 80% of her day marketing Conduit, and as a result, even beat out Stephen King’s sales for a short time. So it matters, folks. You might have the best book in the world but if nobody knows about it, it won’t sell.
You can learn more about Angie and her books by visiting her website here.
San Bernardino Library hosts Meet the Authors
Members Eve Gaal and Suzanne Saunders wanted to share the fact that they’re participating in a Meet the Author event offered by San Bernardino’s Feldheym library on August 12. Here’s a snapshot of the flyer, and here is a link to more info. I told Eve I’d try to be there, although August is Grandkid Babysitting Month and I might only have enough energy to lie flat on the sofa and watch TV.
JUST FOR FUN (and knowledge)
My buddy, Judy Howard, and I agreed to do a marketing challenge in August, wherein we’d compete to see who sold the greatest number of books! We’ll reveal our marketing plans to each other on July 31. Not only will this force us to create one, but we discovered that we’re taking different paths: she’s marketing IRL (In Real Life) whereas my push will be IMP (In My Pajamas; i.e. online only). At the end of the month, we’ll know what worked in both arenas, and I’ll share that with you.
Okay, I need to get down to the river! Let me know if I missed anything in summarizing this meeting. Stay cool, and I’ll see you on August 26 at the library for our Second Annual Appreciation of Poetry.
This blog post was prepared by Lynne Spreen, President of the DVWG. Lynne writes midlife fiction, because she believes we learn and grown continuously throughout our lives. You may access her website here and her books here.