Monday, October 26, 2015

Dispatch #43: What's So Scary?

Photo by L. Fernandez
by Lupe Fernandez

Scratch, scratch.
There's an insect lodged in my ear.

Just kidding. That's an urban legend of a bug crawling in a my ear, laying eggs and the larvae eat my brain.

What's scary?

Three unrepresented writers walk into a bar and only one will walk out with an agent. Aahhhh!!!!!!

I could summon up a bucolic memory of Halloween night, wading through a front yard choked with spindly branches to the front door of an old man - as a kid, all adults were old - and ringing his doorbell. He swung open the door and shoved his hand deep into my candy bag, rattled it around and slammed his door. I didn't bother to check if he left any candy. I ran.

The Wolf-Man lived in crawlspace above my family garage. He would only jump out when I went to switch off the light. Wolf-Man as in the Universal 1930's Lon Chaney Jr. version who, after his transformation, kept his shirt and pants on. A werewolf with no pants, that would be scary.

Fortunately, the crawlspace above the garage has long been seal off. My nephew lives in garage converted to a loft. Although, he does spend a lot of time with the door closed. Hmmm...

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

Plenty of horrors in local and international news. Don't need vampires or zombies.

At the time of this writing, my city is experiencing a swarm of small earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Survey states swarm activity is comment and can stop at anytime. A jolt here and there. No problem. For the past ten days, unsettling.

Ringing telephones make me cringe. Someone is calling. What do they want? Why doesn't the ringing stop? I don't want to answer it; I'll have to talk.

The end of the world scares me.

I dreamed my mother laid down towels on the living room floor and told us kids to lay on our backs. That we wouldn't fall over when the meteors struck the Earth.

Aaahh...the ear irritation has stopped. Told you. Nothing in my ear.

Gurgle, gurgle. 

My stomach hurts. I lift up my shirt. A fin shape bulges under my skin. Something swims around my navel.

And its angry.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Burbank Library Author Signing: What We Took Away

By Susan J Berger and Victoria Krol

On Saturday, October 17, The Burbank Public held a Local Author signing event.. They opened up a meeting room, set out tables, made signs and a program listing the bios and books of the signing authors. The event was beautifully organized and well attended. 

I was one of the fifty signing authors, each of us there, hoping to attract the attention of the attending buyers.

And I had help! My brilliant fellow Inker Hilde Garcia stayed up most of Friday night baking her justly famous chocolate chip cookies. (This one top of the regular organized chaos that is her life and a twenty page paper she had due.) She and I and her son Sam wrapped over 100 cookies and attached a postcard to each. I wanted prospective readers to know how to find the eBook, Audiobook  and paperback on Amazon in case they weren’t prepared to buy at the event.

Most authors brought giveaways ranging from bookmarks to chap sticks. One author’s publisher provided Book shaped USB Drives. I think I had the best. Hilde’s cookies are the bomb.
Hilde schmoozed, bought books and made sure every author got a cookie and the postcard.

My favorite new idea? The author who had a poster with large print snippets of her reviews. It also said Show Special. 10.00 Next time, I want to do that. I know people put review snippets on bookmarks and postcards, but they are two small to read when you’re browsing a show.
Kris Kahrs, my other in-town Fellow Inker came and brought her son Tommy. And bought a book. We haven't had a Pen and Ink meeting in a long time. I was so happy she came!
I sold eight books.  - Five of my children’s books and three copies of Time and Forever.
Kris Kahrs, Susan J. Berger Hilde Garcia. We miss Lupe!!!!

I had three children's books to sell. I sold the last copy of Growing Up Dreams before this picture.

Children’s writers were underrepresented. I am not sure why.  I think SCBWI and Pal didn’t get the word

E Katherine was there with the ARC for her debut novel. How to Be Brave. I’d read a blog interview with her and it’s on my TBR list.

Andrea Loney, winner of the Lee and Low New Voices dropped by and bought my book. I love Andrea.

While I sat passing out cookies and talking with prospective readers, Victoria Krol interviewed many of the authors about the books. Here are her comments.

Sisan McNeil
Her book theme was Norse Mythology.
In her book it was Fantasy and a little drama.

Nara Duffie and her mom.

Nara Duffie
She is a twelve year old novelist.

The Monster Realm Her book is about a secret land called Lanodeka that monsters created to  be able to live in peace. The main characters sibling gets taken into the land of Lanodeka and encourages the monsters to go to war.
Tori bought this book and I dipped into it. I am borrowing it when Tori finishes.
It is self published and very well written. Also I love the cover design.


The books she wrote were Y.A.
One of them was about mother earth and her  creations and how a hunter continued to destroy it. Her other book was about a person who had a personality disorder where at night he was really sweet and kind, but in the day he was mean, cruel and rude.

Paul Marquez

His book was called the Devil’s Daughter.
The Father and the daughter despise each other.
The daughter believes that her father should not destroy humanity so she tries to foil his plans and save the victims of his plans. His book is fantasy and it’s for young adults (Y.A).

One of his series is about Indiana Jones meeting Iron Man.
The other series was called The Twelve Stones.
Both series were not my age group.It was for 18 year olds or higher. Vic Cabrera

Vic Cabrera wrote short stories about his life in Cuba.
It is titled My Cuban Story funny memories ,serious times.

Patrick Burdine
His story is titled Vampire’s Lover’s.

It is not my age group yet. There are good vampires and bad vampires that have developed into bloodthirsty monsters. The main character’s blood helps keep the good vampire’s alive and the bad vampires are trying to kill all the people with the special blood so only bad vampires are on the earth ,they don’t want any more good vampires on the earth.
Nancy Lorenz

Nancy Lorenz wrote about a girl that loved to dance but she faces conflicts when they move from New York to California.Nancy Lorenz included real facts about ballerinas because she was a ballet dancer.Her book is Y.A.

Allison Morse
Allison Morse wrote a book called The Sweetheart Deal. It is very light, The main character wants to be the head of her family's company and another man tries  to take over the company.
LeeAnne Hansen

Her books are for adults. One of her books is titled Yonder and a male ghost haunts a living girl. Her other book is called Ghostlight and it’s about these actors in Scotland and they have a performance in a Scottish castle and a ghost haunts that castle.

Barbara Sheppard

Barbara Sheppard wrote a little book and its purpose is to remind us to live life and enjoy it.

Cheryl Holt

She has written 40 books. One of her books is about a girl and when she is very little and her parents die and she gets separated from her siblings and neither of her brothers remember and one day she remembers and goes on a mission to find them.

Charles Duffie

Charles Duffie is Nara’s father.

He has written two comics, and one fairy tale about a Mole and an Owl.
Note the poster!
Nancy Cole Silverman

She wrote a book titled Shadow of Doubt and it’s about a reporter that dies from poisoned bath salts… who did it?

Christine Ashworth

She writes romance with mystery in them. Her book has a music star whose live is being threatened.

Now that I've read Victoria's notes I wish I had been able to dip into more of the books. I have read Allison Morse's The Sweetheart Deal and Christine Ashworth's Star books and loved them. Alison and I belonged to the same SCBWI critique back in 2008. Christine is the former president of LARA-RWA, which was well represented at the signing. 
Conclusions: No one was making many sales. Most book signings aren’t huge money making events. Don’t spend a lot of money on promotional items. Bookmarks or postcards are good. Candy is excellent. Cookies home made? Gold. A poster with review snippets which people can read easily, with a sticker giving a show special price is an excellent idea. Next time I will get a Square Reader so I can take credit cards. Write on!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Need a Nudge? Try NaNoWriMo

Have you started a book which you’ve never had time to finish? You are not alone. I had ideas galore. But getting them down and finishing that first draft? Let me say it took me a year and an half, a commitment to my critique group and a lot of personal nagging to finish a first draft of a middle grade book.  Then I discovered NaNoWriMo.

National Write a Novel Month takes place in November. It began in 1999, when Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This will be the sixteenth year of the marathon. It has become an international event with more than 100,000 [R1] participants. 
This blurb from their website: 
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.
In 2014:
  • 325,142 participants, including 81,311 students and educators in the Young Writers Program, started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.
  • 849 libraries, bookstores, and community centers opened their doors to novelists through the Come Write In program.
  • 55,774 Campers tackled a writing project—novel or not—at Camp NaNoWriMo.
Sound interesting to you? My first thought was 50,000 words in one month? No way!!! The longest piece I’d ever written was that mid grade novel – about 16,000 words. But what if I could? I explored the NaNoWriMo website and decided to give it a shot.
It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a huge gift – a deadline.
In November 2004, I sat down at the PC without an idea in my head, just a determination to do a daily stint of 2000 words. (I belong to the Pantser school of writers. The plot emerges from my subconscious as I write.)
The first sentence was “I am beginning. I don’t know how I got here and the world is full of strangers..” Horrible sentence, but I kept on writing.
Often my inner critic would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” But my looming deadline gave me the courage to silence my inner snarker with these words. “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

Another joy of NaNo? Getting a pep talk from a well known author in your mail box every week in November. Here are a few SCBWI members gave: Kate DiCamillo, John Green, Tamora Pierce, Walter Dean Myers Here’s is a link to all the previous SCBWI author pep talks.

I kept writing. I attended local NaNo write-ins. I powered through sticky awkward sentences to scenes I was proud of, and on November 30, 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a first person YA novel called Missing. Frabjous joy!!
(Slight problem: After I read it through, I realized I had used Robert Heinlein’s Mars stories as a model and that science is no longer valid. Someday I will figure out how to overcome that and revise the novel.)
In 2006 I gave NaNo another shot and didn’t finish. I hated what I’d written. No one yelled at me except my inner critic.

In 2009 I tried again. This time I came up with a first draft I knew I could revise into a better story.
Many drafts later, Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for Second Chances, which was reborn as Time and Forever and published in 2014.

Hilde’s making cookies for me to attract people to my table. The cookies alone are worth your visit.

I’ve written two more novels during NaNo, I am on revision number 7.5 of Kate’s Hero which I wrote during the 2013 NaNoWriMo. The third is still waiting my attention.

Biggest pieces of advice:
Be like Dory in the movie Finding Nemo. “Just keep writing, just keep writing. Do. Not. Edit. As author Sarah MacLean says, “That’s for future you to worry about.”
Name your inner critic (I call mine Ethel), and tell her/him to take a vacation till the end of November. If you keep your fingers moving and write through the junk, a beautiful something will emerge.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure.
You have no idea what is possible till you try it.
Have fun! And if you're around, stop by Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Public Library on Saturday between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM

Monday, October 5, 2015

Dispatch #42: Playing with Guns

Scene from The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
by Lupe Fernandez

At a local theater, I saw The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. The film was action packed and well-performed. SPOILER ALERT: The film ends with the young protagonists surviving a raid on their encampment and determined to get revenge on the fiendish antagonists. One of the last images is of teenagers armed with rifles ready to fight.

As I walked out of the theater, I thought if the film - same script, same characters - was cast with all black actors, I don't think this film would have been made. If this film with a black cast had been made, I think some people would run from the theater and lock themselves in their houses. TV Talking Heads on the propaganda channels would criticize the film for promoting violence and demand congressional and judicial action.

The militarization of dystopian stories disturbs me.

What happened to non-violence civil disobedience?

In respect to the movie Scorch Trials, if the protagonists laid down their arms, they'd be captured and subjected to a heinous fate. So that's going to work in this story.

I'm not espousing Oh My God Stories of Dystopian Young Adults Toting Guns are Ruining the Moral Fiber of Today's Youth.

Not to worry. In my generation, yesterday's moral values were destroyed by Disco and Pinball Machines.

Civil Right March
As previously stated, I found the film exciting to watch. I appreciate cinematic gun fights with Colt M4 Carbines LE6920 Magpul MOE FDE .223/5.56 NATO 16-inch 30Rd and explosions as well as the next movie-goer.

Maybe I haven't read enough YA dystopian novels were change is achieved through non-violence. If so, please let me know.

What do I intend to do?

Funny, you should ask. I have a YA dystopian manuscript - the antagonists have weapons - and I'm going to make the protagonist create change using good old-fashion non-violent civil-disobedience.

I'll let you know if it works.