Monday, May 26, 2014

Champlain College: A Fine Place for a Young Writers Workshop

Last week I wrote about the time I'd just spent at Bread Loaf working with high-school aged writers. Well, now I'm just back from a similarly awesome event, the Champlain College Young Writers Conference, in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, overlooking Lake Champlain. This was my first time there, so I had to discover how things worked as I went. While extremely busy, it was a little more laid-back than Bread Loaf. (Sometimes that meant easygoing and sometimes it meant confusing.) I saw a bunch of familiar faces from Bread Loaf, both faculty and students, and that gave me a feeling of comfort. There were also quite a few of us newcomers among faculty, including Craig Shaw Gardner, who rode up with me from Boston. As far as I could tell, everyone had a great time.

For me, there are three great things that come out of this kind of event: First, the chance to work with incredible kids, whose talents and ambitions both inspire and challenge me. (If any of you guys are reading this, thanks! And that includes the terrific college students who helped us as mentors.) Besides their writing, some of them gave "Moth talks" on real events from their own lives, which were funny, touching, alarming. Their final group presentations were priceless.

Second is the opportunity to mix with writers from all sorts of fields—poetry, mainstream fiction, playwriting, nonfiction—whom I would probably never otherwise meet. They feel like valued new friends, even if I only see them once every year or three.

The third thing is a little less obvious, and that's the chance to learn more about teaching. Most of these guys not only write, but teach for their day jobs. They have quivers full of skills that enable them to keep a classroom full of kids interested and engaged. I try to soak up as much as I can, while I can. For example, Linda Urban at Bread Loaf gave me a great group exercise for learning to write dialogue. (I didn't have time to try it on this round, but next time!) At Champlain, I sat in on a craft session on writing from different points of view. I was in awe of Sarah Braunstein's command of the group, and the way she got them to experiment with different viewpoints. I'm keeping notes for next year!

I also discovered that Phil Baruth is a hell of a pool player, as well as a Vermont state senator. But that was after hours, when I learned that excellent craft beer on draft is a staple in downtown Burlington, and when I for the first time tasted gravy fries. And tasted. And tasted again, just to be sure!

P.S. Many thanks to Lesley Wright and Jim Ellefson for inviting me!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New BookBub promo: "Going Alien"

Time for another price cut! I couldn't afford William Shatner to shill for me on TV, so I went with BookBub again to help me spread the word. My short-story ebook collection Going Alien has been marked down to just $.99, for a limited time only!

Did you read that right? Yes, you did! Just ninety-nine thin, copper-tinted Lincoln disks, or a one dollar bill with a corner snipped off! You can afford that. You can't afford not to! Limited time only! You like short stories, right? Well, the more you buy, the more you save!


Kindle | Nook
Smashwords | iBooks
Edit: Also now at Book View Cafe

And if you enjoy it, please thank me for the fantastic savings by posting a review! Thanks in advance!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Story from Bread Loaf: "Joe Biden Is my Homeboy"

I'm just back from this year's New England Young Writers Conference at the Bread Loaf writing center near Middlebury, Vermont. As usual, it was awesome, challenging, inspiring, and exhausting all at the same time. I made some new friends among the writers in residence, reconnected with some old friends, and spent time with a magnificent group of high school student writers. Their talent, intelligence, and mutually supportive nature just blows me away. They're awesome writers and awesome people.

(Next weekend, I get to do it all over again at the Champlain College Young Writers Conference. Two of my Bread Loaf students are doing that one, too. Talk about dedication!)

This year I particularly enjoyed the readings given by other writers in attendance. One piece I can actually share with you (though not the voice part). This is a story called "Joe Biden Is My Homeboy," written by Rone Shavers, and inspired by Damon Weaver, a kid who as a 5th grade reporter interviewed candidate Joe Biden for internet TV.

Here's how the story begins. Try to imagine a sonorous black man's voice, with cheerful jive intonations, reading the narrative in a voice so fluid it makes you forget that the language is something other than standard English. That would be the voice of the author, who is also by the way a great guy.

Joe Biden Is My Homeboy
by Rone Shavers

Ooh, Ms. Noonan, the reason I was not in your class last week was cause I went to the White House. I was all up in the White House and I was on TV. Okay, you got me, maybe not TV, that is my dream, but I was on TV on the internet, which is called Youtube. I was all up in the Youtubes, but I been there before so you can’t fail me for missing no school. You said if I told you the truth you would let me take them tesses I failt, so I am telling you now the truth.

Ooh, but it is not just the truth, it is also the background, which mean it is the scenario, and that word I learnt in a rap song. No, my whole for real true life story is once, way back when, back in the day, when planet internet generation Kids TV first came to our school, I met Joe Biden. I also met Shawn Marion and Dwayne Wade, star of the Miami Heat, but that is a different story from the one I’m telling you now, so please listen. You got to listen and focus up on my right now story, my story is Joe Biden, he is vice president, and he is my homeboy for real. I sent him a internet email video, and in it I had me on some khaki pants and a smooth polo shirt and I said Joe Biden, I heard you is gone be vice president. That is cool. Will you be my homeboy? If you is my homeboy, I get to interview you, so just say yeah, like Shawn Marion and Dwayne Wade, who is the basketball star of the Miami Heat. Joe Biden, do you like basketball? I love basketball... [read more]

Here is a YouTube video of young Damon Weaver interviewing Joe Biden. How much of the rest of the story is true, I do not know.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Proof that God Has a Sense of Humor

If dogs aren't proof that God has a sense of humor, I don't know what is.
for a bunch more pictures.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Upcoming Workshops

May is going to be a busy month for me, for teaching. I'm participating as an instructor in two different conferences for high-school-aged writers. The first (coming up this weekend) is the New England Young Writers Conference, at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in Vermont, which is something I've been doing off and on for a number of years now. It's always a great time, and I hope this year will be even better.

Just one week later, I'll be teaching for the first time at the Champlain College Young Writers Conference, in Burlington, Vermont, which I'm told is rather similar. (And even has some overlapping faculty.) I look forward to working with still more young writers on what I understand is a beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain.

I get a break after that, but August 7-10, I'll be teaching one more weekend, this time at the Cape Cod Writers Conference in Hyannis, Massachusetts, which is a workshop conference for adult writers. At this one, I'll be working specifically with aspiring science fiction writers, while a lot of writers in other genres will be teaching the tools of their specific trades. This conference is still open for registration, so if it sounds like something you'd be interested in, take a look and maybe I'll see you there!

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Monday, May 12, 2014

New Covers, Going Free, and Like That

My friend Rich Bowker blogged recently on the reasons for making a book free for a limited time. He doesn't mention what I think is the main reason for giving away books, which is to introduce your work to new readers who you hope will become returning regulars. But he makes a good case for doing it for the reviews you hope the giveaway will generate.

I've had Neptune Crossing free for a long time now, in hopes of introducing new readers to The Chaos Chronicles—and there are three more books already available for said new readers to spend their hard-earned money on (with one more in the writing, and one last book planned). And it seems to be working. But reviews are definitely important, too, and if you've read and enjoyed any of my books, I hope you'll take a few moments to post a review (or several!) at the store where you shopped, or Goodreads, or another social networking site. Careful readers (or maybe I should say, compulsive readers) may note that I've been gradually updating my ebooks with requests at the ends for the appreciative reader to click a link and post such a review. They really make a difference—partly in guiding other potential readers, and partly because they can affect sales algorithms and whether a particular book will be accepted into a promotion such as Bookbub or The Fussy Librarian. Your vote counts!

Another thing I've been doing lately is getting some new covers made, to replace my early and rather crude efforts on the Chaos books. Here's the new one I've just uploaded for Strange Attractors!

I still have The Infinite Sea to do. I'm still searching for the right image.

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Fussy, Fussy Librarians

Okay, I've been absent here for a while, I know. I've been exceptionally busy with life—including but not limited to getting some new book covers done, preparing for some writing workshops, making some minor but important changes to ebook files, and, of course, working on The Reefs of Time. You'll probably get a rash of posts from me with updates on a lot of this. And then I'll probably go silent again for a while, because the outlook for the next couple of months is Crazy Busy, with Intermittent Chance of Madness.

My reason for emerging? I have a little promotion running today through a service called The Fussy Librarian. It's a site that offers you a selection of discounted books, filtered by reviews and by your (the reader's) personal preferences, such as genre and amount of sex and violence. They asked me to post today's list of daily deals, so I am—but there are no links, so if something catches your eye, you'll need to do a quick search. (Visit The Fussy Librarian if you would like to get your own daily email of new deals, which will have links.)

I had to chuckle when I saw the last book in the list.

The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader (A Richard Sherlock Whodunit)
Jim Stevens
Price: $0.99

Death of Secrets
Bowen Greenwood
Price: $2.99

Science fiction:
Neptune Crossing
Jeffrey A. Carver
Price: Free
(Okay, if you read this blog, you probably already know that Neptune Crossing is free. But the purpose of the ad is to draw new members readers into the cult fold.) 

Young adult:
Life's What You Make It
Theresa Troutman
Price: $2.99

Suzannah Daniels
Price: Free

The Start of Something Good
Renee Vincent
Price: Free

Two (The Godslayer Cycle)
Ron Glick
Price: $0.99

Savage Secrets
Cristin Harber
Price: $0.99

The Marquess (Regency Nobles Series, Book 2)
Patricia Rice
Price: $4.99

A Witch's Tale
Rue Volley
Price: $0.99

Skye Knizley
Price: $2.99

Mysteries-Female sleuths:
A Dead Red Heart
RP Dahlke
Price: $2.99

Unholy Testament - Full Circle
Carole Gill
Price: $0.99

Children's / Middle Grade:
Keeper of Reign (Reign Fantasy, Book 1)
Emma Right
Price: $1.99

Chelle Chelle
Price: $0.99

Gay / Lesbian:
Somebody to Love
Merry Farmer
Price: $4.99

Jump Start Your Book Promotions
RP Dahlke
Price: $0.99
(Starting, one presumes, with advertising on The Fussy Librarian?)

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