Thursday, April 29, 2010

Emyl Jenkins

When a writer dies, so do her memories and all her experience. We lost Emyl Jenkins on April 27 at the young age of 68. If you never met Emyl, you missed a woman who was more active than her age, tireless in her mentoring of beginning writers, a story teller who loved antiques, and a member of the James River Writers. Missing as last year's conference because she was on a book tour, she will physically missed at this year's conference, but will be honored through our memories of this dymanic woman who loved to laugh -- and to make us laugh.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jason Wright

Tomorrow, two libraries at Smith Mountain Lake will host a discussion by Jason Wright, a faith-based writer, who is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USAToday best seller. I wrote about his visit in Laker Weekly last Friday. Jason was very helpful in giving me information to write this story, as were the ladies from the Waterfront Book Club. I hope our turnout is good. I hold ticket #134, so I hope we turn out more than 200 people. Time will tell. I'll be back tomorrow with a follow up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Virginia Press Women Conference

I had the pleasure of meeting a dynamic group of women at last Friday's VA Press Women Conference at the Taubman Museum. From the national president to local writers to novelists such as Sharyn McCrumb and Sally Honenberger, it was a day of stimulating panels and great sidebar discussions. The Twitter panel was probably the best, because the panelists focused on using Twitter to establish yourself and your works as a brand. (They were not interested in what we had for breakfast, but were interested in retweeting messages to broaden brand marketing reach.)

Sharyn spoke about how difficult it is to change stereotypical perceptions. She asked four questions and asked the audience to write down the state in which each act took place. Then she asked if any of us had chosen WV, VA, KY, or TN for any answers. When the majority raised hands saying yes, we had, she told us we were the problem. Not one of her questions, not even "what was the last state to convict a man on cannibalism?" took place in an Appalachian state. (For your curiosity, it was Colorado.)

That reminded me of a panel I was on in the early 1990s. I was speaking to about 250 newspaper publishers and editors, most of whom were lamenting that they had difficulty reaching a youth market, a women's market, various ethnic markets, yet none had a teen, women or Latinos, for example, on their staff. I mentioned that in looking at the audience, I could see the problem. They were mostly older, mostly male and mostly pale -- and they didn't get it. They had no idea how to reach what they said were target demographics. How could a balding white guy know what a 14-year-old Hispanic girl want to read??

Lesson learned from Sharyn. Fewer lessons learned by the newspaper moguls (mongrels??).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sedalia Conference Wrap Up

Once again, Darrell Laurent pulled off a terrific conference at the Sedalia Center tucked into the Blue Ridge mountains. A small group gathered on Friday for refreshments and "grip and grins." We chatted over wine and cheese and got to know each other.

The "keynote" speaker, Kathy Grissom, has recently published her first book. She talked about how long it took her to write her novel, her trials with getting an agent, and finally getting picked up by Simon and Schuster. She read some selections and set the mood for the next day's meeting.

And what was the mood? Almost otherworldly. It was clear that Kathy channelled a spirit who told her to tell her story. And what a story it is. When Kathy read the next day, she had many of us in tears from the beauty of her language and the seriousness of some of the passages she shared. I do not like historical fiction, but I bought two of her books: one for me, one for my daughter. I want to try and schedule Kathy to come and speak to my critique groups. She is willing.

The group here is Karen Wrigley from Lake Writers, Kathy Grissom, moi from Lake Writers and Sally Roseveare from Lake Writers. Aren't we a clever group?

So, at the end of the conference, it was like saying farewell to old friends I just met. Awesome.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sedalia Writers Conference

The 4th Annual Sedalia Writers Conference is this weekend and I can't wait. The reception is Friday night -- perfect for networking with other writers. I'm looking forward to catching up with new-old friends and making new-new friends. The conference itself is all day Saturday. In Big Island, VA, it features three local writers: novelist Kathy Grissom, eco-travel writer Paula Jean West and author and public relations professional Amy Allen. Thanks to Darrell Laurant for putting this together. Again.

Several members of my Lake Writers critique group are going. The most raucous carload will be mine with Sally Roseveare and Karen Wrigley.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Have I mentioned before how much I despise proofreading? It's that necessary evil, the last step before I think "I'd done." I can only proof for about an hour at a time, so I have to break up a manuscript into easier-to-swallow bites. (Or should it be easier-to-proof pages??)

Still, it has to be done, so I pulled out my red pens and my reading mask. No, not one that goes over my eyes (although . . .) but one that only exposes a single line of text. I read from bottom to top, right to left, word by word. It's tedious but any wrong word, any grammo, any typo pop out.

At any rate, this weekend was warm and sunny, so proofing on the deck with water lapping on the dock was relaxing. Too relaxing, because I kept dozing off. Maybe it was the sun on my face. Maybe it was the droning of the carpenter bees looking for a spot to drill. Maybe it was the pfssst from the wasp spray on any bee with the audacity to land on our log home. Maybe it was the incredibly dull writing style. Whatever.

I can never tell my friend that her work put me to sleep. I think I go back and finish proofing my manuscript. I don't fall asleep in it.

Would that the last two best sellers I read had editors who took the time to read thoroughly and make all the necessary changes. Sigh.