Monday, November 28, 2011

New Year's Resolution Early!

Course Instructor: Anastasia Suen
I've decided to take a writing course to help me learn the craft of writing for children. After looking over a few choices, I selected Anastasia Suen as my instructor. She offers classes in picture books, chapter books and novels for children. I've signed up for the picture book class starting Jan. 4th.

Fun and Educational - US States for Kids

For my friends with school-age kids or grandkids, check out US States for Kids - app for the iPadThis is a easy-to-use app that challenges kids to learn the location of the 50 states.

The object of the game is to put all 50 states in the right place and in the fastest time. It has two levels of play: Easy (with state map outlines) and Difficult (without the outlines). Each state pops up one at a time on the screen along with audio pronouncing the name of the state. To play, set the timer and start dragging the states into their correct positions. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle on the iPad. 
Start slow and learn the positions of the states; then work up to playing against the clock for best speed. If it gets too hard, you can use hints to help. 
 US States for Kids is fun AND educational.  5 STARS!

Sent off another manuscript!

I just sent off my manuscript for a picture book after another six months of revising. If anyone tells you that writing picture books is easy, hit them for me! I've been working on my Ferret picture book off and on for two years!

I'm also going to enter it into some contests. My local library has one and OWFI has another.

It's time to start a new story!

Monday, November 21, 2011

For Writers

"The difference between the published writer and the unpublished writer is, the unpublished writer spends time thinking about what he wants to write while the published writer spends time writing about what he thinks." 

Author unknown

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back to AP Style!

After I graduated college in 2009, I thought I was done with the AP Stylebook; but, not so. I just had to re-up my subscription to write for magazines!

If you want to do any serious magazine writing, most of them require that you use the AP Stylebook. Here's a money saving tip: If you buy it as a book, it's about $20-$25. If you buy it as a one-time year subscription, it's $25. BUT, if you do the automatic renewal, it's only $15/year! Even if you find you don't need it later, you can always cancel.

The online version is much easier to use. You can do a search for terms without having to know in which section it is, save often-used terms to your own "notebook," and get updates as they occur. Very handy!

So, back I go to my AP Stylebook for a refresher! (I wonder how many mistakes I made in this entry!)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Interviewing Billie Letts

Yesterday, I had the privilege of interviewing Billie Letts, author of Where the Heart Is, The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Shoot the Moon, and Made in the U.S.A. For those of you not familiar with her work, Where the Heart Is was selected for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club, and it was made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Stockard Channing. 

Billie is as gracious as she is talented. I must admit I was a bit nervous interviewing someone so famous! In fact, I got halfway there, stopped at Barnes and Nobles to pick up my own copy of Where the Heart Is (I read a library copy.) and then realized I left all my interviewing notes at home! I ended up being 15 minutes late. I was mortified! I had no number to reach her other than her publicist, so I called that number and left a message; but I was sure when I got there, she would refuse to see me. But she didn’t. Instead, she graciously welcomed me in.
Interviewing Billie Letts is like going to a good movie. She’s adventurous, compassionate, and funny. She entertained me with stories about her own life and the lives of others who provide the inspiration behind her novels. She talked about her most treasured moments of being a famous author as being when she reads all the letters she receives from young girls who quit school but go back after reading her books. And, just when I thought she was getting serious, she'd pop out a sassy joke about herself. It was delightful. 

If you ever get a chance to interview Billie Letts, watch out! She will interview you back. Before I left, she found out as much about me as I did about her. I think she's looking for new characters for her next book!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Writing Business - Where is it Going?

This has been an interesting week in book publishing news.

First, I was approached by a local bookstore chain about selling my self-published book in the store. I told them that my book, The Checklist, is a bit unusual and sells mostly by word of mouth. Furthermore, by time I give the bookstore 50% and pay shipping (60% for Amazon), and then pay my printing costs, I make very little on the book. With this book, I can't count on more sales unless someone in the store knows how to use the book and can explain it to the customers. Then if the store discounts the book, I am competing with myself. So, no thanks. 

The store then told me it is going into POD production as of December. POD, if you don't know, means Print on Demand. The customer approaches a kiosk, orders the book and then waits while the book is printed and bound. There would be information about the book so that readers could learn more before they purchases. I told them to call me in December! This might work for me, if they don't discount my book.

I had no idea we were that close to using the POD model in America's bookstore. The idea is that no only bookstores, but coffee shops, grocery stores and other retailers would have this equipment. No more books on the shelf and remainders. 

What do you think of that? 

The second thing I read this morning is about a service in China called, Freemium Fiction Publishing. In this model, authors in China are writing fiction in installments and offering it free. As it gets popular, the readers have to pay for the final installments. Amazingly, this is working in China. Earnings from this model have been from $0 to $152,500 (American dollars), depending on the author's fan base. 

Do you think this would work in the West? How will that affect the traditionally published author? 

Finally, I just heard that Thomas Nelson is being bought out by Harper Collins. Harper Collins bought Zondervan in 1988. How will this affect the Christian publishing market? 

Lots of changes in the book publishing world. Where will we go from here?