Tag Archives: advice

Four Must Haves for a Successful Book Tour

1. Hire a publicist. Not only should your publicist schedule your book events, she should also make your hotel and travel arrangements. This extra service is worth the expense, since it prevents missed opportunities. I only listened to half of this advice by hiring a publicist to arrange only the book signing events. Because my publicist did not plan my travel arrangements, I ended up being unable to reschedule one leg of my flight to take advantage of a last minute TV interview. If my publicist had managed the entire trip, this would not have happened.

2. Hire an author escort or roadie. An author escort meets you at the airport, takes you to your hotel, and drives you to the event. She may also highlight points of interest in each city and suggest places to go for meals. If you can’t afford an author escort, you can also hire a roadie who will carry your bags to and from the airport, drive you to your hotel and events, and take pictures for your website. The roadie won’t pack your suitcase, so you may still forget that beautiful angora sweater on the hotel duvet, which is exactly what I did.

My Roadie
My Roadie

3. Bring your own pen. Every bookstore manager asked, “Where’s your pen?” Not only was I unaware of the expectation that each author has a special book tour pen, I only carried those fine tipped ball point pens I use to jot down notes when inspiration strikes. If I had known better, I would have purchased a red fine tipped felt pen for autographing books – red to emphasize the title and the message of happiness.

4. Bring your own bottled water. Most bookstores supplied water, but the schools I visited did not. You do not want to lean over a water fountain with a highway of students pushing and shoving down the halls between periods in the hopes of quenching your thirst. It does not work. If I had brought my own water, I would have been less hoarse and tired after giving 5 presentations in one day.

Taking the Plunge

Heart

This week I’ve had the honor to wish one of my co-workers best wishes on a new adventure: opening a coffee shop and teaching percussion to the youth of the Santa Rosa Symphony.

It takes a lot of courage to step away from the security of a traditional job and follow your heart, but ultimately, if we want to find happiness, it’s what we have to do.

I’ve had time to review the preliminary feedback from my beta-readers, which has been positive. In fact, two of the three encouraged me to start querying agents. “The plot moves along and builds with great tension, and the mysterious Little Indian Girl kept me guessing all the way to the end,” one of my readers said.

Instead of diving into another round of edits, which would land me safely into the arms of writing, I’ve decided to take my beta-readers’ advice and send out a couple of queries to the agents I feel would best represent the work and me.

Please, wish me luck.

And remember: find the courage to take the plunge and follow your heart.


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Medicine and Writing

Medicine and Writing 2

If you read books on writing, you will find various theories on the art of rewriting. Some writers suggest tackling the whole project head on. Others recommend breaking the story down into manageable pieces: Part 1, Chapter 1, Scene 1, Paragraph 1, and Sentence 1. Still others advocate a multiple step approach, from structure to syntax.

In spite of all the great advice from experienced writers, sometimes things don’t work out. You can’t organize your thoughts in an outline. You can’t structure your plot into three neat acts. You can’t delete that scene or eliminate that character without the whole story coming apart.

You get overwhelmed and lost and don’t know where to go for help.

The same thing can happen in life.

Since my daughter’s mysterious illness, we’ve consulted doctor after doctor, specialist after specialist, seeking first a diagnosis, then a cure. But in spite of all the great advice from experienced physicians, things haven’t worked out. My daughter still sleeps most of the day. She complains of constant headaches and migratory aches and pains. Her digestive system is completely out of whack.

Our family is overwhelmed and lost and doesn’t know where to go for help.

As a writer when I am stuck in a rewrite, I step away from the work. Sometimes I seek out other writers who have overcome similar challenges to see what they have done. Some writers have joined writers’ groups. Others have taken online courses. A few have hired professional editors. Still others have sent their work out to beta-readers for advice.

As a family, we’ve asked around and found others who have experienced the same mysterious illness. A teenage boy suffered for one year until he was well enough to return to school. Another teenage girl was misdiagnosed for several months before she was finally treated. Some parents have hired acupuncturists, herbalists, and even shamans.

In spite of all the advice I’ve received from others about rewriting, I have discovered only one thing remains true: I need to listen to the story.

In spite of all the advice we’ve received from others about our daughter’s health, we’ve discovered only one thing remains true: we need to listen to our daughter’s body.

In medicine and in writing, you need to know the techniques that have worked for others, but you also need to trust in your ability to decide what is best for you.

As I trust in the story, my rewriting gains momentum, building scene by scene each day. As my daughter trusts in her body, she slowly recovers, gaining a little bit of strength each day.

In an uncertain world, sometimes the answers we need are the ones we invent ourselves.


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Daughter Knows Best

Trust a Teen or a Publishing Professional?

Last year, amidst the holiday celebrations, I received a letter from my literary agent stating she would no longer represent me. The New York publishers she had pitched my young adult novel to had told her the plot wasn’t engaging enough and the main character was too young.

My daughter tried to encourage me by telling me she would help me rewrite the book so it would attract the attention of another literary agent who would finally sell it.

She kept her promise, read the novel, and critiqued it.

While she was reading and critiquing, I researched current publishing trends. I read young adult novels from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to Smart Girls Get What They Want. I filled notebooks with magazine articles and blog posts detailing teen speech patterns, habits, fashion, and concerns. I volunteered to be near teens and chronicled first-hand encounters of student-teacher interactions, relationships between peers, and tensions between grade-levels. I witnessed teens sending secrets texts while pretending to pay attention in class. I overheard stories about how they pirate e-books and music for free from online sites.

When my daughter and I sat down to compare notes on how to approach the rewrite of my young adult novel, our views vastly differed. I wanted to set the novel in present time to use my research, but my daughter wanted to keep the historical context. “It would be fun to learn about a time before cell phones and iPods,” she said. I wanted to start over from page one, but my daughter wanted me to beef up the plot by deepening the romance between the main character and the boy-next-door.

“Rewriting the whole book is a waste of time,” she said. “You only need to change a few things.”

Changing only a few things in the scope of a novel seems daunting. I rewrite like an auto mechanic overhauling an engine. I do not know how to rewrite a book like an auto mechanic performing a tune-up on an otherwise solid engine. But that’s exactly what my daughter had asked me to do.

Of course, I don’t want to listen to her. After all, she’s a teen with limited experience, not a professional who can negotiate a lucrative publishing contract and advance my career. But she insists she knows what she is talking about, as a teen and as a reader. And, being a mother, I have decided it would be best to listen. Because even if the book never reaches hundreds of thousands of teens, it will reach my daughter, who is the only teen who really matters anyway, right?