Friday, October 28, 2011

That's My Kind of Book Signing!

From my beloved Shelf Awareness:

Last Saturday, Stacy Adimando was the star of a cookie tasting, demo and book signing at the Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn, N.Y., to promote her book, The Cookiepedia: Mixing, Baking, and Reinventing the Classics (Quirk Books). She demonstrated how to make Pistachio Butter Cookies and Chocolate-Dipped Espresso Shortbread. Brooklyn Brewery provided beer for the event. Lucky attendees got to sample cookies, drink beer and have the author sign their copies of the book.

[Since I write middle grade, my book signing will have to be milk and cookies...]

What is the most fun book signing you've attended? Were there giveaways? Do tell!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Changing My Name In These Good News Times

A post to honor the following AMAZING WRITERS:

Shannon Messenger
Lydia Kang
Shannon O'Donnell

Have you ever changed your name? I have. I came into this world as Michael Gilmartin, but just before our second child was born we went to the courthouse and merged into the Gettel-Gilmartins. 'Course, we had to pay some bucks for the privilege, and the judge wanted to know why we were doing it. The answer: to bring on the apocalypse by causing computers to flip out over a hyphen.

I'm thinking of changing my name again, to honor three amazing writers I've gotten to know during my brief blogging life. It seems as if I've known the Shannons forever--and I met Lydia during the Pay-It-Forward blogfest. These three stars have turned October into a month-long good news fiesta.

First there was:

October 12, 2011
Shannon Messenger's debut middle-grade series KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, about a girl who discovers there are secrets buried in her memory that others would kill for, and has to figure out why she is the key to her brand-new world before the wrong person finds the answer first, to Liesa Abrams at Aladdin, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, for publication starting in Fall 2012, by Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (North America).

Then, on October 15 there was:

The announcement by Shannon O'Donnell


For three weeks I have been sitting on a secret . . . THE secret. It's been hard. This morning, I signed the contract.

And that means I can finally say

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!
(Just to be clear: this is Shannon's announcement, not mine)

Terrie Wolf, of AKA Literary LLC

Finally, there was this:

October 20, 2011
Young Adult
Lydia Kang's THE FOUNTAIN, about a 17-year-old, who must rescue her kidnapped sister with the help of a band of outcasts with mutated genes, set in 2150 when genetic manipulation has been outlawed, to Kathy Dawson at Dial, in a good deal, in a pre-empt, for publication in 2013, by Eric Myers at The Spieler Agency (World).

Wouldn't it be great if some of their good fortune rubbed off on me?
From now on, please address me as

Shannon Lydia O'Gettel-Gilmartin

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What The Boys Are Reading

The G-G Boys Book Club:

Kieran (8): The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Nick (5): Scooby Doo and The Bowling Boogeyman by James Gelsey
Dad (as old as Methuselah): Shine by Lauren Myracle (plus 145 Middle Grade novels for the Cybils)
Chris (15): Rules to Rock By by Josh Farrar

What's on YOUR shelves today?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My New Novel's Gonna Be A Bestseller!!!

Yup. Man Booker Prize here I come!! (Oh, and congrats to Julian Barnes. I'll be in his shoes next year.)

Here's the query for my new novel. It contains such scenes as could never happen in real life, surely.

Maren Wonder is a talented novelist. When the book she's written--Radiant--is chosen as a finalist for a prestigious book award, Maren is over the moon. But as she's uncorking the champagne, word comes that Dulles Deafman, a geriatric telephonist who has always hated Maren and her work, claims he has written down the wrong title. The real nominee should be Gradiant, a gritty novel about cleaning the sewers of New York.

The head of the awards' panel, the well-meaning but ineffective Titus Dimvit the IVth, initially claims that this year six novels were considered worthy of inclusion. But Deafman takes his claim to the media and soon Dimvit is calling for Maren to withdraw Radiant "for the honor and integrity of the award." Deafman can hardly believe his luck: Maren has been humiliated in the eyes of the literary world. But Maren conducts herself with grace and professionalism in withdrawing her book for consideration. What will Deafman do next to turn what should have been a moment of joy and celebration into a complete fustercluck?

THE SCREWUP OF THE CENTURY, a literary thriller, is complete at 60,000 words. I am a member of Fabricators Anonymous and Titus Dimvit IV is my father.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Titus Dimvit V

I should probably have Matt MacNish and his sharp-eyed minions take a stab at improving this. After they're done with their minor tinkering, I plan to write the screenplay, for which I'm going all high-concept: Mommy Dearest meets Mr. Holland's Opus, in which my father is reduced to a blithering idiot, Dulles Deafman is stabbed with the Pen of Justice, and all the other nominees tell a packed auditorium that they're withdrawing in solidarity with Maren. Pass the kleenex!!

And now, off to buy me a copy of Lauren Myracle's SHINE. Truth is stranger than Fiction.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts on the Pay-It-Forward Blogfest

Friday dawned dark and drear in the Pacific Northwest. But what was outside my window was not mirrored on my computer screen. On-screen, it was fireworks, mariachi music, a veritable fiesta. Yes, friends, it was the Pay-It-Forward Blogfest, the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh and Matt MacNish. Over 250 blogs did the linky-link thing (which actually caused me to take a big GULP! I mean, that's a heckuva lot of bloghopping.)

I will shamefully admit that I have yet to hop to all the linky-linked blogs. In fact, I've been to but a fraction of them, such is the craziness of my life at the moment. (Can anyone say, The Cybils?) But a goodly number of people came my way even before I'd set foot through their own portal.

Here's what happened: I started the day with 93 followers, a number I'd been stuck on for months. By the end of the weekend, I had 27 new members in my stupendous posse, for a total of 120. I also had 24 comments. What was even nicer is that Shannon O'Donnell had put my Middle Grade Mafioso blog forward as one of her three blogs to visit. So Don Vito woke to a wealth of new followers too.

But the best thing of all is not the number of followers, the comments, and all the razzamatazz. The best thing is getting to meet so many new bloggers. And in doing so, having the potential of making some new friends. I mean, 20 months ago, when I began blogging, I never imagined I'd be doing all the things I'm doing with so many supportive, funny, interesting, and just plain wonderful people by my side.

It takes a blogosphere, people.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Welcome, Pay It Forward Blog Hoppers!

Wow!! This is like a flashmob on the web!
(Late breaking news: the day has just started and I'm already almost at my goal of 100 followers!!!!
@2p.m.:Thanks guys: Goal well and truly busted!!)

Howdy, and all that. I'm excited to be part of Matt and Alex's Pay It Forward Blogfest/hop. As of yesterday, there were 201 of us. We are a MOTORCADE, people.

Here's a quick bit about me. I'm a writer in Portland, Oregon. I started blogging about a year and a half ago. Now I have three blogs: this one, Middle Grade Mafioso, and the group blog, PROJECT MAYHEM.

Of course, I would list Matt MacNish's QQQE as the greatest blog in the history of the known universe, but since you already know that, here are a trio of other blogs I love that you really should visit when you have a spare millisecond:

Sarah Fine's The Strangest Situation: "Where psychology and YA literature/media meet. Collide. Meld. Fight to the Death. Snuggle." Sarah's "a practicing child psychologist with an unapologetically empirical orientation. (She's) also an author who writes unapologetically fantastical YA fiction."

Lisa Ricard Claro's Writing in the Buff: "The naked truth about, well, pretty much everything." Lisa "excels as a laundress," but also is busy "working on my YA novel, editing my women’s fiction novel, plotting a short story, writing an essay, or researching new markets."

Barbara Ann Watson: "Middle grade book reader. Middle grade book writer. Juggling those while balancing my other roles as a wife, mom, teacher, professional lover of chocolate, and walker of my big dog everyday no matter the weather."

I hope you'll pay these three great bloggers a visit.

(And if you leave a comment here, I'll love you to pieces. If you just dip in and dash, please take the time to click the follow button. I'd love to make it past the 100 follower mark.)

And believe me, I will visit and follow in return.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Libraries Must Never Close

The wonderful Tigard library, near Portland, Oregon
As a first round panelist for the Cybils (and have you made your nominations yet?!) I need to read dozens of books. And the only way I can afford that, unless I want to suddenly start busking at street corners with a sign reading "Will Sing for Books," is to make friends with my local librarians.
I went into the Tigard library on Monday, armed with a list of Cybils nominees. An hour later, I'd pulled over 50 books from their well-stocked shelves. Thank God for libraries!!
This particular library has it all. Not just books, but programs for teens and space for book clubs. It even has a donut shop on the premises!!

Books and baked goods--what could be better?

I wonder what the future holds for libraries, though. Will they still be around when printed books have gone the way of the dinosaur and we all have e-readers embedded in our craniums?
Tell me about your local library. Does it have funding pressures? Donuts? What do you think the future will bring for these wonderful institutions?

Friday, October 7, 2011

She's a Rooster Writer, I'm a Rabbit. What are you?

My wife, whose birthday was yesterday--happy birthday, sweetheart!--thinks very highly of Daphne Gray-Grant, a.k.a. The Publication Coach. Daphne's articles are always illuminating and entertaining, and so I'm cribbing one this week. She's very kind and allows us to do this as long as we add the following attribution: Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of the popular book 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a brief and free weekly newsletter on her website. Subscribe by going to the Publication Coach.

Here's the piece that Daphne wrote a couple of days ago. If you want to know which animal of the Chinese Zodiac you are, here's how to find out.

Singing your own song

Join in the battle hymn of the rooster writer!

I’m a writer who’s more than ready to sing a battle hymn –- just not one like bestselling author Amy Chua.
Much in the news in recent months, the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, irritated me. I’d read the comments in the New York Times,
the Guardian, and the Daily Beast.
Frankly, the author sounded unhinged. Yet because I live in Vancouver, where a very large percent of the population is Asian, I knew she exemplified a certain kind of Chinese mother. You know, the one who requires endless music practicing, who deems a B+ a “failing” grade and who insists on weekend tutoring in Mandarin and math. I wanted to read the book but must confess I was churlish enough to refuse to concede even a tiny royalty payment to its author Amy Chua. So, instead of buying it in a bookstore, I checked it out from the library.

I radically disagree with Chua’s parenting style but I found her book slightly more sympathetic than I expected. But in the final chapter she made a confession I think every writer should find revealing. Here is the quote from page 223:

“Even though I usually have writer’s block, this time the words streamed out of me. The first two-thirds of the book took me just eight weeks to write. (The last third was agonizing.)”

This comment is so intriguing on a number of levels:
The book is extraordinarily short. My estimate puts it at only 56,000 words, when a typical book is usually closer to 80,000.

• If, as Chua says, the wrote the first two-thirds of the book (or about 37,000 words) in eight weeks that means she wrote about 900 words per day, taking weekends off. I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider 900 words per day as writing that is “streaming” out of anybody –- especially not someone who has written two books before. And, remember, she also describes writing the last third of the book as “agonizing.”

Chua’s admission that she “usually” has writer’s block is telling because to me it suggests that her raging perfectionism -- instead of helping her -- is making her a slow, troubled writer.
Chua, who was born in 1962, is a tiger according to the Chinese zodiac. Well, that same system makes me, born in 1957, a rooster. And just as Chua began her book with a list of things she wouldn’t let her daughters do (watch TV, be in a school play, get any grade less than an A) here are the things I don’t want writers I to do.
Let’s call this the Battle Hymn of the Rooster Writer:

1) Don’t edit while you write. This is like trying to wash the dishes while you are still eating dinner. Keep your writing and your editing separate. Hang a towel over your computer (or turn off the screen) if you’re temped to edit while you write.

2) Do NOT judge yourself in any way while you are writing. Instead, focus only on WHAT you are writing. Don’t try to be the best. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Don’t be the least bit critical. Just write.

3) Don’t think you’re a better writer because you write slowly. Instead, write as fast as you humanly can. Use timers to challenge yourself to put out as many words as quickly as possible. Go for QUANTITY rather than quality and work on quality later, when you are editing.

4) Don’t write too soon. Give yourself plenty of time to THINK before you sit down in front of a blank computer screen.

5) Do not obsess on facts. Instead, look for the anecdotes or stories in what you are writing. (This is likely why Chua perceived this book to be easier to write than her others -- it is filled with stories about her children.)

6) Don’t limit yourself to work. Have fun: Read other writers. Watch TV and movies. Listen to music. Go for walks. All of these “entertainments” will feed your writing life.

7) Don’t see publication as the only worthy goal
and anything less a failure. No writing is ever wasted.

I feel sorry for Amy Chua. She is a very bright and driven woman who thinks that discipline is what makes life work.

The rooster writer’s point of view is that writing demands far more than mere discipline. Instead, it asks you to take the judging, perfectionistic part of your personality, and put it on hold while you write.

If you want to learn to write like a rooster, check out my book or my Extreme Writing Makeover.
Photo courtesy Raymond Gobis, Flickr Creative Commons
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I love Daphne's Battle Hymn. Any other stanzas you'd like to add?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oklahoma and Adele

Music has been on my mind these past couple of days. Yesterday, my wife and I went to see Portland Center Stages's production of Oklahoma!, which has been making waves with its all-black cast. (For a review and pictures, see her blog!)
The show starts with Curly coming onstage, pouring out a bootful of dust, and singing "O what a beautiful morning, o what a beautiful day."

Kinda Pollyanna, I know. But that's sometimes what happens when everything's zinging with writing--words are pouring out, pages are being requested, and all seems right with the world.

Then there are the dark times, the times of doubt. I was listening this afternoon to Adele, whose 21 has been a resounding international success. (However, so behind the times am I, it was her debut 19 I was actually listening to.)

One song stood out, a song called Chasing Pavements. The chorus goes:

Should I give up,
Or should I just keep chasin' pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere
Or would it be a waste
Even if I knew my place
Should I leave it there
Should I give up,
Or should I just keep chasin' pavements
Even if it leads nowhere

I'm sure most artists have had that feeling of "chasing pavements" at some point in their careers. This song, with its minor key and Adele's smokey vocals, really brought home to me how tough the artistic life can be.

But there can be only one answer to "Should I give up?" And that is NO!!

Are you in a "Beautiful morning" phase of your artistic life, or are you "chasing pavements?"

Here's Adele to sing you through it: