Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roundup: Art Affair on the Square 2013

The Art Affair on the Square (July 20th) turned out to be a disappointing event on some levels, mainly due to the weather. Rain. Hard rain, and gusting winds arrived about ninety minutes after the festival started and lasted about thirty minutes.

The Storm Arrives

This drove away many of the early festival goers. I believe it kept away many of the people who
might have attended later on.

Luckily my wife called, warning us of the storm passing through St. Paris (about 15 miles west of Urbana) so we were prepared, even thought the approaching dark clouds were warning enough. But we were given a clue as to the storm's intensity.

Flood Flowing Behind Our Table
The tent provided by the city and the Champaign County Library held up well, and the Douglas Inn largely at our back offered protection from the downpour. I also bring along large trash bags as part of my 'signing kit' for random needs, including covering up books, book marks, etc.

After the storm passed, three of the six author bailed, leaving the tent only half full. My experience at events, when there are empty tables or they look less than full, proves to be a deterrence to potential reader/customer interest.

In addition, many of the tents/artists/crafts folks near the Literary Arts Tent packed up and left, including the emergency response tent (At the time I commented, "Do they know something we don't?"). I don't blame the vendors, especially those that specialized in water color paintings or crafts that don't respond well to water. There was a chance for more rain later in the day.

But for me, getting to the event...once there, I'm going to stick it out. I formed this attitude years ago when I worked in the fast food industry (Taco Bell). If business was slow, a manager would go around and ask crew workers if any wanted to end their scheduled shift early. It amazed me how many jumped at the chance. Heck, I was there to work and get hours to earn larger paycheck. What's the point of showing up only to go home after a couple hours?

I keep the display basic,
especially when outdoor
wind is present
In any case, the Literary Arts (Author) Tent was set up on the southwest corner of the square in Urbana. All the folks on the southeast corner left after the rain. I am guessing they got the worst of it. That left only one food vendor and one photograph/art vendor near us, with the rest of the festival running along the street to the north of the square and extending along the street away from us. There appeared to be very little reason for folks to walk around the square, past one food vendor and cross the street (cars and trucks were still driving around/through the square along U.S. Route 36) to explore the two tents (ours half full) and a small food vendor, when there were probably five dozen or more tents along the north-running street, and food vendors closer to them.

Does that mean I didn't meet any readers or sell any books? No. I met some neat folks and sold a few before the storm arrived and a few after, but the visitor traffic before the storm seemed to be about 1/3 the number of last year, and after the rain, maybe 1/5th on our end. I think it was considerably better along the festival's central route.

Domestic Diva Tent
The Domestic Divas, for example, did pretty well. They were on the main strip and had some protection from the buildings too. So there were plenty of potential customers.

If asked to be an author guest next year, I'll jump at the chance. The Champaign County Library folks were wonderful (both this year and last year). Sometimes bad luck occurs, especially with respect to outdoor events--oppressive heat, rain, strong winds, etc. As an author, I just roll with the punches, look at the good, and move on to the next opportunity to meet readers.

A Butterfly on my Daughter's Shoe.
She thought it was pretty neat. Me too.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Three Events: Art Affair on the Square, Piqua Farmer's Market, FandomFest 2013

Over the next week or so, I'll post on the three book events I attended in close succession as July 2013 came to and end:

  • July 20th (Art Affair on the Square)
  • July 25th (Authors Day at the Piqua Farmer's Market)
  • 26th-28th (FandomFest 2013)
As a minor teaser, I'll post three pictures, one from each event. Maybe you'll be able to guess which picture matches with which event.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Panels at Fandomfest 2013: July 26-28th

I've previously posted about FandomFest 2103, including some of the, literary, film and media guests.

I'll have a table in the Authors Alley, where I'll be meeting Fantasy, Horror and SF readers, talking about reading & writing, and signing copies of my books.

In addition I'll be participating on the following Literary Track Panels:

Friday 5:30 pm Writing a Series
Saturday 10:00 am Approaches to Character Development
Saturday 11:30 am World Building 101
Saturday 1:00 pm YA Fiction: A Forum
Sunday 10:00 am Beta Reading
Hope to see you in Louisville, Kentucky!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wanting to Attempt First Person POV/Present Tense?

I see this recurring question on the several writing forums I visit:

"I want to write my novel in first person present tense. How can I do that?"

Usually this question is posted after the young (when I say young, I mean an author early in their writing career) has tried the technique and is struggling.

My first bit of advice is to consider if 1st Person POV/Present Tense is really the best choice for relaying the story to the reader. If it absolutely is (what exactly would make it qualify, I'm not sure. Each author has their own criteria) and the author definitely wants to write the story, then attempt it, knowing it's toing to be a real uphill struggle. Another option is to writing skills while working on other projects that don't employ 1st Person POV/Present Tense, and come back to it later.

The writer wanting to attempt the difficult technique often says they think it will make the story more intense and immediate and personal to the reader. Maybe, but unless it's done by a skilled hand, the novel's content often sounds play-by-play, repetitive and forced.

I'll say again: It is a very difficult technique to master.

 My strongest recommendation before attempting 1st Person/Present Tense is for the writer to locate several novels that they have read and enjoyed written in the POV and tense in question.

Read and re-read the novels, paying close attention to how those authors accomplished what is going to be attempted and/or currently struggling with, be it dialogue, describing actions, events, etc. Take notes and compare from author to author.

Then, from what has been studied and learned, the writer should apply it to their own writing style and the story they're attempting to write.

My suggestions for 1st Person POV/Present Tense novels:

Carry Me Home by Sandra Kring

The Zombie-Driven Life by David Wood

Confessions of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer

The technique can be very effective and powerful when it's done well. It's a distracting disaster that detracts from the characters and story when implemented poorly. In that case no agent/editor will consider it. Even if sees the light of day through self-publishing, readers will pass it turn away and pass it over.

As a final note, I think the main reason present tense initially feels awkward to readers and also to writers, is because, we're used to hearing stories relayed to us in past tense. When a spouse tells what happened at work, or a teen tells what happened at the ballgame the night before, or a 'Once upon a time' story is read to a child just before bed, they're told using the past tense structure.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Art Affair on the Square: July 20th

A reminder that I and several other authors will be hosted by the Champaign County Library at the 9th Annual Art Affair on the Square.

The author tent will be located on the southwest corner of the Urbana's Monument Square, near the Douglas Inn, facing east (U.S. Rt. 68). I'll be there from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, talking about writing, reading and signing copies of my novels and short story collection.

There will be artists of all types set up for the day as well as food vendors, and definitely something to put on your calendar.

If you're able to attend Saturday the 20th of July, I hope you stop by and say, "Hi!"

Monday, July 15, 2013

Part of Author's Day at the Piqua Farmer's Market, July 25th

I've been invited to participate in the Authors Day at the Piqua Farmer's Market. I and several other authors, including William (Bill) Weldy, will be there talking about reading, writing and signing copies of our novels for those that are interested.

I and the other authors will be there, hosted by Mainstreet Piqua, from 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm, July 25th.

The Market runs from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm on Thursdays and is located in the big parking lot at the southwest corner of East Ash and Spring Street (part of the path U.S. Route 36 takes through Piqua, Ohio).

As always (or almost always) the Domestic Divas will be there too!

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Avengers: Thor Fumbles and Drops his Hammer

The Avengers was a pretty good movie. In fact, it's my younger daughter's favorite movie.

A friend from college works in Cleveland where The Avengers was filmed, and he took this video from his office window above where the scene was being shot.

Guess they needed at least one more take ;)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

An Interview with author Kim Smith

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Kim. Please, take a moment to tell us a little about yourself.

Well, this question, believe it or not, always throws me. I guess I will never get used to anyone wanting to know anything about me. I still do not believe that I am a published author. It's very surreal to think that people in the world download or buy a paper copy of something that I have written. You'd think the novelty would wear off at some point but since 2008 when my first book was published, it still hasn't.

I live in the Mid South region of the US, and people here are very friendly and polite. Music is king here, not literary arts, and that's sometimes a mystery to me as there are some pretty great authors from here. John Grisham, Mark Greaney, and gosh, we even have a poet laureate here.

I love writing books, stories, and on occasion, a poem or two. It's like my belonging somewhere. It's in my blood.

I am also a radio host for the show, Writer Groupie, on Blogtalk Radio. It's a labor of love, and I am always looking for authors to host.

I also blog with three of my writer buddies over at Murder by 4, and we have garnered four 101 Best Sites for Writers awards from Writer's Digest. An honor I am proud of.

I am also a photographer, and have a small business with my hubby who is a videographer. Summertime I meet myself coming and going!

Between a full-time job, a part time business, my writing career, my radio show, and family, I am a busy person but I manage to get it all done. It's why I cannot understand people who say they don't have time to write, or read.

With so much going on, Kim, how do you prioritize and how do you find time to write?

That's a good question, Terry. I mean, it's hard on a good day, but I manage. I get up at 4 AM every morning, make a pot of coffee, work on blog posts, do some Facebook and Twitter stuff, visit forums like AbD and try to exercise, and write. But on the weekend, I get most of my writing and editing done. On the weekend, I also shoot photos, edit photos, and help my husband with our business. The summers just about kill me J -- I am really thankful for long weekends like Memorial Day and other holidays.

I find that when I am working on a new WIP, and the writing is going well, I will deny a lot of excess, like Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs, etc. I just do not have time to visit and post to them.

When I am in the throes of edits, such as I am now, there is more time because I am always thinking of what needs to be done, but not necessarily doing it.

Can you tell us about your work in progress and also about some of your published works?

My latest WIP is a YA fantasy titled Loran Rudder and the Secret Key. It is going through the editing process. My most recent publication is An Unexpected Performance, a YA time travel, available at Amazon in print and for Kindle.

I am also working on a fantasy for a summer workshop, and a contemporary romance. I never cease to write.

What do you believe drives you to write, Kim?

Good question. I believe that at one time, maybe in the beginning, I thought it would be something that I could one day make a career of – doesn’t every writer want to write full-time? But lately, it is my dream to litter the world with stories that will be around long after I am gone. I would love to one day be known as a "classic storyteller". Of course, that might not happen until I am dead, as we all know posthumous fame is the norm! But if only my kids and their kids and so on read my work and know that someone in their family did such a thing, and actually like it? That's enough for me.

Can you tell us a little about Murder by 4 and also about Writer Groupie?


Murder by 4 is a blog I co-host with my three friends, Marta Stephens, Aaron Lazar and S.W. Vaughn. Ron Adams is a guest blogger and so is Warren Adler, the author of War of the Roses. We have the great distinction of being a four-time winner of the 101 Best Sites for Writers by Writer's Digest for a thriller site. There are a lot of murder, suspense, and thriller writer interviews, and general good writing tips there.

Writer Groupie is my new Blogtalk Radio show. I interview authors about their books and the writing life, and it is a great and fun way to see how others perfect the craft. I hope it serves as another marketing tool for them as well.

Speaking of writing craft, how do you avoid plot holes and/or writing yourself into a corner?

The best way to avoid plot holes and or writing the character into a spot where they cannot fix the problem can be corrected pretty easily with more planning on the front end. Sometimes writers just dive right in and start writing the story without pre-planning the road ahead. The old adage about using a road map for a road trip and using an outline for a book journey is pretty true. Outlines can help a lot in these sorts of situations. Just take more time on the front end so you have less work to do during the writing expedition. This is a fact that I am just now coming to appreciate. I am outlining a whole lot more now than I ever have before.

Some good points, Kim. Is there anything else you’ve learned about writing, or being an author, that you’d like to share with the readers?

Some ideas about motivation:  If you want to write, write. There is time in every day to do the things we want to do, if we want to do it. If you find time to watch a television program, you have time to write. If you play computer games, you have time to write. Make writing your priority. A lot of successful authors make it like a job. They dress up and they do the work and then they shut everything down, and "go home".

And don't say you are afraid you couldn't come up with an idea, either. There are ideas flung across the universe every second. Just grab one! If you need a prompt, ask me. I am full of them.

We all have fears of failure, and even of success, but that shouldn't stop us. The only thing keeping you from writing that novel or that non-fiction book is you. As I like to tell my kids, (and you may quote me!): "The only thing holding you down is gravity."

Speaking of gravity, you wrote a Time Travel YA book, right? (I know because it’s on my bookshelf at school and some of my students have read it). Can you tell us a little about that novel and also what is your favorite SF television program of all time?

Yes! I wrote A Mirror in Time back in 2010 and when the original publisher went out of business, I reissued the book (revised and re-covered) under a new name. An Unexpected Performance is the new issue, and I created the cover myself. That is something that I am very proud of. I think it speaks to the historical aspect of the book a lot better than before. My favorite SF television program of all time? That's a toughie. There have been a lot. The original Battlestar Galactica was pretty good, but Stargate SG1 runs a very close second. I am about to become a huge fan of the new series due to kick off called Under the Dome, too, I bet. It's not pure SF but looks really creepy and good anyway.

Re-releasing is a great option now available today when a publisher goes out of business. Some good SF Shows, especially SG1—if you ask me.

How do your friends, family and even co-workers react to what do they say about your writing and the time you put into it? Its it what you expected when you began writing?

My family has always been very supportive of my writing. I believe that most of them have purchased at least one of my books. Probably fewer of them have purchased my YA than my adult ones, though. Only because YA is not a genre they read. Writing has certainly evolved for me through the years. When I first began way back in the early 2000s I believed I would be a bestselling NY published author without ever having to edit. That is a good laugh now. No author should ever do anything with a work that isn't edited within an inch of its life. But I think new authors have a somewhat arrogant attitude thinking that they are the best that has ever been. It takes a few dozen rejections to stop that belief. I have published short stories, novelettes, novels, and even a poem or two since I had the "I am Queen of the world" disease. I now believe I have only scratched the surface of what one could know about writing.

I agree, Kim. One never stops learning as a writer.

As we’re closing in on the end of this interview, is there anything you’d like to add or share?

If there are aspiring authors out there who want to know some of my advice on how to get into the writing chair and better yet, how to stay there until they turn out something, they can pick up my latest work, TenTips for Getting that Book Written. It's only about 40 pages long, and filled with great info, and even bonus material! I just produced it on Amazon for Kindle and it is a whopping $1.50. Also, I am always looking for guests for Writer Groupie radio show, and if anyone has a book they would like to promote, feel free to drop me a line.

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for the interview Kim!

For those who would like to find out a bit more about Kim Smith, here are a few links:
Kim Smith's Author Website
Kim Smith's Blog, Writing Space

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lonesome Dove's Janey and Lilly from Flank Hawk

In a previous post (here) I discussed a little bit about one of the main characters in my First Civilization's Legacy Series, Lilly.

As a writer, when I create a character, I start with an initial image and personality and go from there. One of the original influences for Lilly.

Like many writers, I'm not only influenced by people I've met and known, but those I come across while reading or watching television/movies.

Lonesome Dove is one of those novels and films that is filled with intriguing characters. Janey, the backwoods, stone-chucking, frog-eating young girl came to mind when imagined Lilly, a yong girl Flank Hawk comes across while fleeing with the Blood Sword, ogres and mud hounds close on his trail.

Lonesome Dove's Janey

Janey and Lilly aren't identical, but there are echoes of Janey in Lilly when she first appears in Chapter 18 of Flank Hawk. A few of those echoes remain as Lilly has developed as a character and grown throughout the series.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July: Celebrate, but Safely

To those in the United States, Happy 4th of July. A time to celebrate and remember...and to keep your dachshund away from the fireworks ;)