Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb Tweet List: Conference Tips

Here are all the conference tips I tweeted in the month of February. Hope they help some of you:

1. Here's an incredibly detailed list of things to do to prepare for a conference or convention:
2. Conference tip: Have physical materials to hand out--something with your name, website, book & its order info. Even a business card will do.
3. Conference tip: Memorize 30 second explanations of your books--those to pitch to an editor you meet & those to explain to a potential reader
4. Conference tip: On your nametag, add a book title, motto, even a doodle w/your name. It breaks the ice and provides a conversation starter.
5. Make sure your website, and social network sites are up-to-date. People will check up on your during and after conferences.
6. Swallow your shyness. Talk to folks. Ask them about their works, compliment their costume or something they said in a panel. If you're really shy, enlist the help of an outgoing friend.
7. Take notes on the people you meet: Jot down what you talked about. What are their interests?. Did you promise them something or visa-versa? Get their contact info. I often do this on the back of their business cards.
8. Ask folks about their work. You'll learn a lot and reflect favorably in their eyes. Also, connect people when you can. Talk favorably about other people's works. Building up others builds you up, too.
9. Ask folks what you can do for them. Do you review books? Let others guest blog on your site? If you're writing into he same genre, can you trade promotional materials to take to your own signings?
Here are some more tips on talking to people at conferences:
10. Follow-up. After the conference, write to all the people you met--thank them, follow-up on conversations, keep promises and remind them of promises made. Make a note to contact them next year at conference time.
11. Call the organizers ahead of time and offer to be on panels. Send them your qualifications and don't be afraid to offer to jump in if someone has to bow out.
12. Contact the book sellers attending and see if you can bring them some copies of your book to sell on commission at their booth.
13. Contact the local radio and TV stations and see if they might be interested in interviewing you.
14. Contact local bookstores and see if you can arrange a signing during (or just before or after) the conference.
15. Pack a small emergency kit: sewing supplies, Tylenol, tums, tissue... Not only will these come in handy for you, but for others as well. Be the hero!
16. Pack water bottles and light snacks. Easy way to save a few bucks.
17. Find out if there's a hospitality room and make a point to drop by and talk to folks there.
18. Freebie table? Think of others. By this, I mean if you know someone who might be interested in the freebie, snag it for them. You'll promote the author and help a friend.
19. Tweet to Meet! I know people at conventions who tweet their location and a request to meet folks. It's amazing how they hook up with others.
20. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes! Layer. Don't carry a lot of heavy stuff.
21. Heavy freebies or midday shopping spree? Ask at the concierge desk if they will hold your items for you for the day. (I learned this the day AFTER dragging around 40 lbs of books at WFC.)
22. Contact your local indie bookstore. Let them know you're attending the convention and see if they're interested in you taking anything or bringing them back anything.
23. Eat in the convention cafeteria at least once during high-traffic hours. Sit by someone you don't know if they seem amenable.
24. Someone you want to meet at the convention? Do some research on them so you can talk intelligently. This is especially true with agents and publishers.
25. Coffee is casual. Lunch is a commitment. If you want to keep a conversation going, invite the person to get a coffee or soda rather than join you for a full meal.
26. Let your social networks know ahead of time that you're going. See who else is. Get their contact info (cell phone number) or arrange a place to meet. Then you can start off with buddies!
27. Get out of the convention center! Enjoy the area! Check out other writing contacts. For example, I got to visit Ignatius Press and have dinner with a Tim Powers and his fans the day before WFC.
28. Set some goals for the convention. Know what you want to get out of it: Who do you want to meet? What do you want to learn? How do you hope to make this convention worth the money and time?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why My Children Will Attend Their Father's Promotion Ceremony

As most of you know, Rob gets promoted to colonel today. It has to be a duty day, and the only time we could schedule it was in the morning, so we're taking the kids out of school to attend.

Amber has had enough illness this year that her absences have tripped the school radar. The Vice Principal voiced concern that she would skip school for the ceremony. "You're not getting promoted, are you?" she asked Amber.

We live in a non-military area, and I guess many people here don't understand what getting promoted to colonel means to a family. I've been racking my brains this week to come up with a civilian equivalent. Making vice president of a company? Being sworn in as a senator or judge? Frankly, these are fabulous accomplishments and earned through hard work, but they aren't comparable in terms of scope of responsibility and impact on the family.

In his career, Rob has led hundreds of people--from the 17-year-old airman just out of training to the crusty master sergeant who had seen it all. He has been responsible for equipment worth millions of dollars. He has been in charge of the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal. He has written national policy that affects not only the Air Force, but the State Department and other national government agencies. Yet there were merely steps toward becoming a colonel. As a colonel, the Air Force is saying, "We trust you to do more."

The Air Force is also saying, "We expect you to give with more." He no longer has a say in his assignments; he will go where needed and when. The "three-year tour" was never a guarantee, but now, one year assignments are not outside the norm. Neither can he request his location. The Air Force can put him in charge of something he's never done before, and expects him to get up to speed and lead in days--maybe even fix a problem in a unit or procedure while he's at it. If someone under his command screws up, he can and quite possibly will take the fall. We've seen it happen to some very good commanders.

This is indeed the culmination of a career. Yet, unlike someone making vice president of a corporation, or superintendent of a school system, or judge, making colonel means more change, more uncertainly, more sacrifice. It is a new beginning.

It also demands more of his family.

This is an achievement for our children, too. Like many children of successful parents, they have had Dad miss events, not seen him for weeks or months at a time when he's on assignment, or had days where he's worked so long, they've only seen him for good-night kisses. Unlike most kids in the civilian world, they are asked to sacrifice personally. The two oldest have lived in two countries and six states. They change schools and leave friends every couple of years. They face uncertainty on a regular basis, wondering if Dad will be deployed or where our next move will be. And by standing with their father as he pins on colonel, they are agreeing to support him in this new phase of his career, and to pick up and start over where and when the Air Force sees fit, even if it means attending four high schools.

There is no way Rob would have come this far--or would accept this promotion and the responsibility it brings--without the consent and support of his children. In fact, we have known other officers who turned down promotion because they no longer wanted to put their family through the moves and demands of a colonel's life.

So, no, my children are not getting promoted. However, this promotion is theirs, too.

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: Format Fun

One fun part of writing a novel is experimenting. In Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, I've had a lot of fun playing with formats aside from the standard narrative. Today, I'm going to cover the radio show.

Neeta and the Zombie Death Extreme contestants get interviewed on K-RTH, one of Los Angeles' radio stations, and the DJ will become Neeta's love interest for the book. I thought it'd be fun to actually have the show playing rather than always experience it in narrative from Neeta's point of view.

Advantages: Once again, it's shorter, and I don't need to worry about peripheral information like where people are sitting, what the station looks like, etc. Since I'm trying to keep this fast moving and funny, that helps keep my pace.

Disadvantages: Radio is about voices, so I have to make sure my cues for who is talking, when someone is joking vs. being serious, etc. are all done without visual cues, but I don't want to make it sound like a script. Also, radio employs a lot of sound clips--bits of music, taped sound bites, etc. that I need to weave in without confusing the reader.

This is from Brian and Cassie in the morning interviewing Neeta. Brian is more the straight man; Cassie is happy-go-lucky. See if you can tell them apart, and tell who Neeta is as well.

"That's great! We have just a minute before weather and traffic, and we'll get you that website. First, though... I don't want to be a downer, but I've got to ask you. You've had a lousy run of luck lately, Neeta: your mother died, you got sued, now this thing with Jorgenson--"

"--oh, yeah, poor Jorgie! He was such a hottie, too--"

"--so why do you do it? What makes you want to keep fighting zombies day after day."
"... I... Well, someone has to do it. People will die otherwise. Die and come back. I know what I'm doing, and frankly, I'm good at it. I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't do what I could."

"Wow. That's so... wow."

"Yeah. You're amazing, Neeta. I mean that. I'm glad you're out there protecting us.
"We'll be back to talk more with Neeta and her trainees after our K-Earth's own Roger Tellerman gives us the low-down on the low front coming our way. Roger, give us some cool news."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Playing catch-up on news

Catholic Writers Conference is coming up Feb 26. I'm very excited for it, and also glad to get past all the preparation and into the fun!

Rob gets promoted to Colonel Feb 26. THAT will be a big event. He had three goals for his Air Force career: Get a command, influence national policy, make Colonel. On Feb 26, he will have accomplished all three! What's next? New goals, though perhaps with less pressure. In three years, he can get retire as a Colonel, which means that he can stay in until he gets bored. I did tell him that if he makes general, then after that I get to decide when we retire!

Amber turns 15 on Feb 22. Her quinceanera is Feb 27. It's going to be relatively small. My dad (a deacon) is doing the blessing at our house, and she's having a regular birthday party rather than a big dance. So we'll have folks dressed in steampunk playing video games, watching Dr. Who and whacking the pinata. My Puerto Rican relatives are a bit baffled, but it's what she wants, and I'm all for it!

Dad and I are still working on our book. The title is decided: Why God Matters: How to Find Him in Daily Life. I think I'd like to change it to Why God Matters: And How to Find Him in Daily Life. We'll see. I have most of my chapters written and am working with Dad on his.

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator is going strong. It's slowed a bit thanks to the other book contract and the CWCO, but I'm still writing some each day I can--about 3000 words a week until CWCO.

I'm still teaching my marketing classes and writing my marketing newsletter. Next class is Marketing Basics. Learn to make a marketing plan! It's 6 weeks, but independent study, so go as fast or slow as you like. Get details here. I've also put up a sample of my marketing newsletter on my website. If you like it, subscribe for the year!

Did I ever mention to all of you that we started a new housekeeping routine? We're following The Fly Lady. Sort of. I don't wear shoes and I don't make control journals, but I do wipe my sinks every day, do daily laundry and 15-minute declutter, plus the "Kelly's Missions," which are deep cleaning. The kids now have two chores for about 20 min a day. I'm shocked how well we're keeping the house clean. This month, Alex and Amber decided to declutter their rooms. Amber got rid of about 10 percent of her stuff and straightened up the rest. Alex will get rid of about 50 percent of his toys. Can't do yard sales here, so it all goes to Goodwill.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: Format Fun

For Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, I'm playing with different venues for imparting information. Since the whole thing revolves around a reality TV show, I'm mimicking real life reality TV (Is that redundant?) by including some of the things they have--from candid interviews to commercials. Today, I'm going to share with you my experience writing a forum.

I used the forum format in order to foster a discussion about Neeta's financial problem and how it's affecting others' views of her and the show. I chose this way because I didn't have to give a lot of explanation, I could bring in a few opinions without introducing more main characters, and I could foreshadow a swell of support that will help her solve her problem in the end.

Advantages: It's fast and pithy, gives me the ability to bring in many sides to an argument, introduce some tangents in a place where readers expect tangents, and gives me a chance to parody current society.

Disadvantages: It's tough to format. I may have to work with the publisher on actually making it look like a forum, though I think that would be fun. Also, I didn't want to list all the entries, so had to create the equivalent of "..." Coming up with usernames was actually hard, too. However, I put out a call on Facebook and got all kinds of great ideas.

Here's a little bit of the forum dialogue:

500,000 dollars?! He sued her for FIVE-FREAKING-HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS?!?!?!?!?! For a little yardwork, a retractable awning and some paint?!

LOL on the GPC Redundancy, by the way. Government never should have bought out that computer company. Did you know the guy used the profits to make his own orbiting hotel? I want a reality TV show on that!

Its not just the damage, stupid. He was having a party for his cliants. She tramatized them and now he's loosing business. Its obvious none of you have any idea how the real world works, so go bak to waching your stupid tv.

I wuldn't feel to sorry for Neeta, either. Shes probably raking in the dow on this show. Wonder if she gets jorgies cut?

Sorry, got to chime in with Trolll here. I caught parts of the trial on TV. He did show that he lost a significant number of clients after the incident. Loss of clients=loss of income. I know she was doing her job the best she could, but she should have had more help, contained them faster, something. It was a botched job.

Seems to me he's losing clients (not loosing, btw) because they're questioning the judgment of a man who would serve pickled beets and blue cheese dressing at an outdoor party on a hot summer's day when he lives so close to a cemetery. Not to mention the fact that he actually thought his electric fence would keep them out. Frankly, he's lucky they hadn't invaded his home earlier, like at night when his family was sleeping. Besides, don't you think the zombie invasion was traumatizing enough? It would certainly turn me away!

Spla77r, it's easy to armchair-quarterback. If you followed the trial, you'd know she was the first to answer the 9-1-1 call, which didn't come until after they crossed his fence, even though people saw them approaching beforehand. By the time support arrived, she had taken them on, single-handedly.
Like someone said, hard core.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pandarus' Valentine's Day Massacre

Pandarus' Valentine's Day Massacre
By Karina L. Fabian
For the Los Lagos Gazette

Los Lagos, CO--Thoughts of romance turned to terror Saturday as what shoppers thought was a store display cupid came to life and started shooting at the mall patrons. Pandarus, a Faerie cupid, was subdued by mall security personnel and has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, and distribution of a magically psychoactive substance.

Pandarus had apparently been hanging around the display window of Victoria's Secret at the Los Lagos Mall, unnoticed by the staff or patrons eager to shop for an extra surprise for their holiday celebrations. "I thought he was just part of the One Hour-My Spicy Valentine sale display," said assistant manager Dana Kline, as she rubbed her arm where one of the heart-shaped arrowheads struck her and leaned against her husband Jed Kline, an employee of Pretzelmakers across the hall.

At 6:45, as the store swelled with anxious shoppers flipping through lacy underthings and squabbling over the last Size 14 babydoll nightie, Pandarus is said to have positioned his bow, shouted, "Let Love In!" and pelted patrons with arrows.

The screams and subsequent stampede alerted Roy Alberts, mall guard and his partner Katie Robbins. They subdued Pandarus after a brief altercation.

"Roy caught him. He was so brave!" Robbins said, with a heavy sigh. Alberts, blushing, insisted he could not have snagged the cupid by his ankles if Robbins hadn't distracted the archer at just the right moment.

"And she took a shot. For me! We're such a great team," he said.

Although at least ten patrons--including Robbins and Alberts--claimed to have been hit by cupid's arrows, none needed medical attention, and in fact refused medical care in order to return home to their spouses, or left with another patron, lacy underthings forgotten.

"I have done a good thing here!" Pandarus is said to have shouted as he was carried off. "You will thank me! I have brought you a happy Valentine's Day!"

Pandarus was on his way back to Faerie Greece after a being filming a commercial for the Venus and Eros online dating service. He is being held without bail.


POLICE BLOTTER: Jed Kline, 25, and Dana Kline, 24, were arrested and charged with indecent exposure at Victoria's Secret changing room. Mrs. Kline was found under the influence of a cupid's arrow and declared not guilty, but Mr. Kline, who was not struck, was fined $150 dollars.

Robbins and Alberts: Katheryn (Katie) Marie Robbins and Roy Manuel Alberts announce their engagement and summer 2010 wedding plans. Robins is the daughter of Rae and George Robbins of Raleigh, NC.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: Format Fun

Normally, I tend to write in the 100,000-word range, but I want Neeta Lyffe to be shorter and punchier, so I'm playing with ways to impart information that are quick and fun. Since I'm parodying reality TV, I'm adding in a lot of different communication tools: video blogs, documentaries, and forums. Over the next couple of entries, I'll share what I've learned about each. Today, we'll start with video blogs.

Like a diary entry, a video blog can give quick insights into someone's thoughts. However, since the characters are blogging for reality TV, they can also snipe, complain and backstab at a distance without having to deal with the immediate reactions of others.

Advantages: I can focus on the person without worrying about the group.

Disadvantages: Introducing that this is a video blog gets monotonous. There are only so many ways to say it.

Here's a clip from Roscoe, one of the contestants on Zombie Death Extreme:

Back in his trailer, Roscoe leaned back in his computer chair and turned on the webcam. After checking his hair in the image projected on his screen and mashing his lips to give them more color, he set it to record. "Okay, so LaCenta said it first, and she was a totally out of line for saying it when she did, but honestly..."

He leaned in close, sharing a secret. "...we were all thinking it."

He checked the file, saved it and uploaded it to his Zombie Death Extreme blog.

"And then there were five!" He wove his fingers together and moved into a yoga stretch.

Oh, gawd, was there any high better than surviving another episode?

Monday, February 08, 2010

An Unexpected Blessing and a (Nonfiction) Book Contract!

I had an unexpected blessing happen this weekend.

I was looking at my Yahoo groups and came across the post: Looking for a Catholic Writer. I figured if I couldn't help, someone in CWG could, so I replied. It turned out the publisher, Tribute Books, needed an author to write a quick little book about living the Catholic life. They had a book lined up and the author pulled out at the last minute.

I looked over the old manuscript and asked a few questions. The format is straightforward, and along the lines of things I'd done before, though not quite in this way. It was something I knew I could do, but I wasn't sure I should. I was also concerned that this was written by a man and as such, had a distinctly male point of view that I could not mimic.

Sunday, I was mulling about it during Mass, and in the homily, Fr. Joe talked about loving our parents and it hit me--I have a deacon father! Even more, I have a deacon father who adores writing homilies and sharing them with his writer daughter.

I IM'd my dad after church and proposed we do the project together. He's very excited about the prospect of working with his daughter--and I'm glad to be able to share this common interest with him.

The book is tentatively called Why God Matters, but the publisher is thinking of changing the title and I'm drawn toward "His Breath in Mine" from St. Patrick. If we can get it done in time, it will be out May 2010 from Tribute Books. We've got to work fast, but I already have two stories written, and know what I want to do for the others. My dad is brainstroming his right now, but he's also got nearly a decade of homilies to draw from. We're aiming for a mid-March completion date.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator: Origins

Since my computer snafu and subsequent loss of Gapman and Discovery, I decided to forge ahead with a novel I started on New Year's Day: Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

I have to credit this novel with The Writers' Chat Room, A bunch of writers of all experience levels, genres and interests meet in the chat room on Wednesday evenings to talk writing, answer questions, share news, victories and rejections, and get silly. Get very silly very often.

During one of these silly episodes, we somehow got the topic of zombies and cookbooks merged. On that day, publisher Kim Richards came up with the idea of an anthology The Zombie Cookbook. She asked us to contribute stories and I came up with "Wokking Dead," where zombie exterminator Neeta Lyffe deals with a zombie invasion of a Korean restaurant. It was silly fun, full of jokes and political satire and something I figured I'd never revisit again.

Then in a chat in December, Kim mentioned that someone asked her if they'd ever see a novel with Neeta Lyffe. In that chat we also started talking about reality TV, and someone shared what he thought was the greatest first line of a novel he'd read: They ate Jorgenson first. Those two ideas got my imagination going, and on the drive to whale watching on New Year's Day, I decided to play with the idea of Neeta training up new exterminators in a reality TV show in 2037.

It's turned out to be such fun, and Kim did ask, so I'm setting aside the others to finish this one. I'm averaging 1000 words a day, 4-5 days a week, so if I can keep the momentum, I'll finish in March. Then I'll try to rediscover Discovery and begin anew with Gapman.

So join me in my novel's journey with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Here're a few lines from the opening scene:

They ate Jorgenson.

Dammit! Neeta thought. I was still training him.

The zombies were gnawing on his leg, his fine, tanned leg, while he screamed and blubbered and somehow still managed to make his surfer-blond hair flow effortlessly.

Not that anyone noticed. The zombies, contained unfed for the past week in the abandoned brewery, had more interest in his meat than his pelt. There were only eight, but was too many for a bunch of unwashed trainees, particularly with the idiot film crew hounding them and getting in the way. Around her, seven panicky apprentices screamed and flailed with their tools, forgetting everything she'd taught them over the past six weeks, while through their headpieces Dave shouted directions that had more to do with good drama than good tactics. One cameraman continued to film while another had abandoned his camera and had fallen to his knees vomiting.

Grunting, screaming, someone calling for her mother...

Wait, that was Neeta. And she wasn't calling; she was apologizing. She just knew Mom was spinning in her grave.

Monday, February 01, 2010

31 Days of Resolutions, Goals, and Organizing Posts

Each month, I try to make a post a day on Twitter about some interesting topic. I decided to then post them here for those who may have missed a day.

1. Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s mine:
2. 8 tips for making resolutions that stick:
3. How to make resolutions that matter:
4. Just to tie in with yesterday’s post on resolutions that matter…
5. My own way to make goals: spend 15 min deciding my old year’s regrets, 15 on old year’s successes, and find goals to address them both.
6. Resolutions are not goals-Resolutions are general; goals specific. Learn more:
7. Here’s more on the SMART concept of goal-setting:
8. Still need help goal setting? Here’s a tutorial!
9. Here’s a whole website dedicated to goal-setting tips:
10. For the graphics-minded, here’s a goal-setting chart. (Scares me!)
11. Is one of your resolutions this year to keep a cleaner house? Cut clutter? FLY lady takes you baby step by baby step. I’m going to try her this year.
12. Authors: Is one of your goals to market your books better? 30-Minute Marketer is a weekly newsletter of marketing tasks (not just tips). I tell you what to do, how and when.
13. Once you have big goals, break them into smaller goals:
14. Step-by-step in the planning process:
15. How to build a smarter to-do list:
16. Need your to-do lists online? Here’s an assessment of 25 services (including free ones)
17. Rob showed me iGoogle’s homepage maker. I love the aps--calendar, a to-do list, a sticky note, and gmail instead of news and force-fed entertainment.
18. Authors: Having trouble knowing what to do for marketing? 30-Minute Marketer schedules tasks for you.
19. Is your goal to organize your home? Cut clutter first! Here’s FLY Lady’s advice:
20. Here’s a whole website for cutting clutter:
21. My own cut-clutter ideas: Keep 4, toss 1. When we do it quarterly, esp. with the kids’ toys, it helps a lot!
22. Cool website for organizing in the workplace:
23. Cut the clutter in your writing:
24. Computer cluttered with programs and other junk? Get the decrapifier: (Rob uses it on any new computer we get)
25. On Facebook? Here are some ways to cut clutter and increase effectiveness:
26. Some good ideas for organizing yourself and your time. (Warning—site has a lot of ads)
27. Good organizing tips: (My fave: tackle worst first, tho I tackle most important first)
28. Writers: Here’s an article about managing your writing time.
29. Writers: Here’s one on organizing your writing space:
30. Authors: Don’t have your marketing tasks organized? For $12/year, I do it for you: