Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Valley Writers

On May 20, Valley Writers in Roanoke celebrated our 28th birthday as a critique group. With cake and excellent readings, and with continuing participation by Rodney Franklin, one of the founding fathers, we followed our tradition of reading members' material and providing feedback on it.

From left to right, Betsy Ashton, Cherie Reich, Becky Mushko, Joan Petrus, Dick Raymond, Melanie Huber, Keith Martin, Millie Willis, Ken Thornsbury, Leslie Hall, Rodney Franklin, Jim Morrison, Wayne White, and Beverly Telfer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jim Minick's The Blueberry Years

I saw this comment on Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog in an interview with Paige Wheeler of Folio Literary Agency. Since we claim Jim as a friend, I wanted to give out a shout out to all my friends. Buy his book, buy his book, buy his book.

"The Blueberry Years by Jim Minick is coming out in hardcover from Thomas Dunne Books in September, and it's just an amazing story. I tend to be drawn to wish-fulfillment projects, and this beautifully captures what I mean by that term. This memoir is based on Jim’s trials and tribulations as an organic blueberry farmer over the course of eight years. Ultimately, though, this book tells the story of a place shaped by a young couple's dream, how that dream failed, and how that dream and place shaped these people.

Through Jim’s writing, this memoir explores larger issues facing agriculture in the United States, issues like the rise of organic farming, the plight of small farmers, the fragile nature of our global food system and our nation’s ambivalence about what we eat and where it comes from. A story of one couple and one farm, this book shows how our country’s appetite for cheap food affects how that food is grown, who does or does not grow it, and what happens to the land."

I love Jim's Her Secret Song and have turned to it several times for inspiration.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Virginia Writers Club Board Meeting

I was fortunate to attend the VWC quarterly board of directors meeting hosted by the Hanover chapter on Saturday, May 15th. I carpooled with Jim Morrison, Becky Mushko and Dick Raymond, all of whom are members of both Valley Writers and Lake Writers. For over ten hours, we were stimulated by the meeting, the afternoon presentation by a variety of writers, all of whom chose self-publishing, and nearly 400 miles of car time. Thanks to Jim for driving.

What was interesting were the reasons various writers had for chosing self-publishing or publishing through Publish America. They included, among others:

  • Maintaining creative control
  • Weary of getting more agent rejections
  • "I'm not getting any younger"

  • I really related to that last point!!!! So, lots of things to ponder until the next meeting in September.

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Shout Out to Valley Writers

    In the past month, three of my fellow writer-friends have had success.

    Keith Martin joined Valley Writers less than two years ago. He had never written anything except an invoice before, but he brought a wonderfully original voice to the stories and essays he began reading. And now, less than two years after he began, Keith sold his first story to the online version of Traditional Bowhunter Magazine.

    John Koelsch, our resident Vietman vet-poet-novelist-haunted writer, sold electronic rights to his Vietnam novel, Mickey 6. More when it is available.

    Dick Raymond won several prizes for poetry in the annual Poetry Society of Virginia contest. He picked up his prizes in Richmond a couple of weeks ago.

    Not too bad for a group of writers about 15 active writers, is it? I expect more to win contests, get agents, publish, publish, publish. This year is going to be a strong one.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Tweets, Blogs and Videos

    I've been reading a lot lately about using social media to create brand awareness. As writers, we are the brand. And so are our books.

    Blogs and web sites are good starting points, but you cannot stop there. Yes, you have to have a web site when you have a book. Yes, you have to have a blog when you are getting ready to have a book. Once you have the book, you need to look at different ways of getting the message out.

  • Facebook: It's no longer enough for you to have a presence on Facebook; your book also needs its own fan page. Amazing how many there are out there.

  • YouTube: Book trailers are growing in popularity -- and in inanity. (But that's another posting, perhaps). Book trailers need to be everywhere: a link on your blog, another link on your web site, a Facebook link, etc. They need to go viral to be effective.

  • Twitter: Not the Twitter of "I got so drunk last night I puked. Oh, here's a photo of me and the toilet." The Twitter of sharing waaaay too much information is also a brand management tool. Attract a group of followers by being a follower. Post a tweet about something you are doing -- like speaking or book signing. Ask your followers to re-tweet. Doesn't take long for tweets to go viral too.

    Ah, I hear the cries of "This is way too much work." It is a lot of work, but if you want to be successful as a writer, you need to consider every possible angle. More and more of the big publishing houses are limiting the amount of marketing they will do for a new writer. Maybe 6 weeks of hype, then you are on your own.

    Might as well practice now while there is still time.