Sunday, October 30, 2011

More from the Louisiana Book Festival

We are back from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where I did three events--readings with Mark Yakich at The Garden District Bookstore and Antenna Gallery, and a panel on post-Katrina novels at the Louisiana Book Festival, which was a terrrific, inspiring event. I presented with the amazing Rosalyn Story, author of Wading Home, a novel that you need. right. now. Gorgeous prose and a riveting story.

Here's me, happy:

Not enough data, surely

At the Louisiana Book Festival, a woman came up to the table, picked up the book and gestured at me with it--as if I might not know what book she was talking about otherwise.

She asked, "Is this good for a book club?" She never even bothered to read the back.

"I think so," I said. "I'm speaking to a book club about it this weekend, in fact."

"Oh what book club? I belong to Amy's book club."

"I don't think it has a name."

"Oh, okay." And she was gone, sort of careening towards the next brightly colored book. Her companion stood in the middle of the tent, as if he wanted to be an equal distance away from all the author signing tables. He seemed to be laughing to himself.

I didn't expect the woman to return but she did. "All right I'm gonna buy this," and she proceeded to unpack her Nook. She picked up my book and not finding what she wanted, asked, "What's your name!?!?"

"Laura Ellen Scott."

"Okay I found it. " Thumbs device roughly. "There, I bought your book! I don't like carrying a bunch of books around."

"Thank you very much."

"Now sign a piece of paper?"

I grabbed a post-it, scribbled my name on it.

"Yeah," she said, taking it from me. She zoomed over to her chuckling friend, gave him the post-it and said, "Here I got you this."

He seemed satisfied.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spotted in the wild, Plus the Poets & Writers Page One

A friend sent these along. They're from the Barnes & Noble out at Tyson's Center:

Very cool. I'm also told I need to make a much bigger deal out of making Poet's & Writers Page One: Where New & Noteworthy Books Begin column.

Friday, October 21, 2011

nice things and an update

update first--the sun is setting on the giveaway of the kindle version of Death Wishing, but on terms that everyone can live with. Not sure when the Amazonians will flip the switch to OFF, so make sure your friends get their freebie before it's gone.

Many more positive reviews now than stinkers, and among the latest is a lovely capsule review on Shelf Awareness. The reviewer, Natalie Papailiou, suggests that my narrator is "creepy," and I do not disagree, but it's the first time someone has mentioned it.

Natalie, if you are out there, "This Woman's Work" is playing on the internet radio as I write this. Shivers. All the best.

Also, a mention at Page One, a Poets & Writers "New & Noteworthy" books column.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I want to believe!

First up, a big thanks to Robert Swartwood, who let me blabber on about a particular kind of murder book. Rob's latest is a collection of short fiction called, Phantom Energy, which looks like a winner.

Second, I just received my formal invitation to panel at The 26th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in March of 2012. Yes, this is the festival with the Stella/Stanley shouting contest. I am not overstating things when I say that being asked to participate is a dream com true.

But to darker matters. The free kindle version of Death Wishing has been available since  Friday, but the early ratings on Amazon are disappointing enough that the publisher has suggested we pull the offer early. I'm opposed to that, at least right now, mainly because I don't want to let negative reviews chase me off the experiment, especially now that the freebie is available internationally (except UK and Europe, looks like).  My attitude towards the one star ninjas is that their points of view amount to rejections, and I've got plenty of those that I don't think twice about.  If, however, it looks like I'm dropping off the Top 100, I'll reconsider my martyrdom.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another weird week, yeah

Most of the week has been slow-no sales, but I've been feeling the love. Three people close to me are in mid-read of Death Wishing, and they chose to gush at me about it yesterday, which, along with the posting of my Recommended Reading list at Ravi Mangla's excellent site, took the edge off my anxiety about the unexplained delay in launching the free Kindle version.

And then there is/was today. Death Wishing is FREE for the time being, which is a huge relief. Right now I'm number 6 in in free kindle amazon lit fic. Gotta love those algorithms.

Tomorrow, Baltimore, and the excellent 5ten Reading series.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maybe you can fill up on appetizers?

I'm getting very distressed about the delay in offering the kindle version of Death Wishing for free. I know the publishers are doing what they can, and today I even talked to a human at Amazon (an amazonian?).

In the mean time other good things are happening, like the fact that Necessary Fiction posted an excerpt today, and Curio is attracting readers again.

So I will not whine. Not here. Not yet. I will continue to pour my frustration into Jewel Quest III, which strikes me as pretty colonial, but I'm addicted. And I suck, which is good--means the game will last longer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Free Lunch--Yet

Complications on the free kindle version. Publishers are looking into it. Sigh.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Freedom: Death Wishing Giveaway

So I am here at the cabin in WV, up a 3:30ish in the morning because my husband's cell phone went into beeping battery cardiac arrest. My cats are stalking & murdering moths, the dogs and man are snoring contentedly. I am effing blogging. Why?

Tomorrow, the 11th, would have been the official release date for Death Wishing, but in fact the physical book has been available for a couple of weeks now. What tomorrow has become then, is the official release date for the electronic versions, and here's where things get pretty exciting:

From October 11 through October 25, the Kindle version of Death Wishing will be available for FREE.

Things my lovely but dusty friends need to know--

Kindle versions don't have to be read on Kindle devices. The reading app is free. Even for PCs I'm pretty sure.

I think it's pronounced KIN-dul, not KEN-doll. You've been saying "kindling" all your life, so what's the problem now?

I really don't need your $$ as much as I need you to click. You have to trust me on this. Things beget and all.

VERY IMPORTANT: If the general public notices the free download option, I may get some bad reviews. It's natural--the demographic that loves FREEDOM & FREE STUFF contains an opinionated subset. Please do not be concerned or defensive by one star reviews. Right now I have no stars, so any attention is good attention.

I'll post about the book party soon. It was a blast, but we found evidence that someone was in Dean's office tampering with his computer. There was a sippy cup next to his keyboard. The suspect list is pretty short. So is the suspect.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A selected guide for new writers

As part of my presentation for Pages & Places, I put together a handout designed to help writers ease into the lively world of literary writing culture. I've heard from some folks who wanted a digital copy, which is the reason for this post. Last night I showed this list to my class, and one of my students had a great question for me after--are there similar resources, pathways in other countries? He's particularly interested in Japanese writing culture.

For my regular readers (all two of you), these are no-brainers. You'll also see some glaring omissions, but my point was to offer places to start for writers who don't feel like they have a community. To give a sense of my Pages & Places crowd, more than half of the audience (perhaps 15-20 folks?) were aware of Goodreads, but only one seemed aware of Zoe or Fictionaut. To talk "platform" at these folks seems cruel and distracting. If I can save just one soul from blowing her money on a Writer's Market guide, I've done my job.
Check the temperature: What’s the buzz in contemporary writing/reading culture?
The Millions
The Nervous Breakdown
Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes
Identity Theory
Galley Cat
The Rumpus

Who are the tastemakers?
Three Guys One Book
The Next Best Book Blog

What’s new in short fiction?
The storySouth Million Writers Award
The Wigleaf Top 50

General Resources
Poets & Writers

Find a writing conference
Writers Conferences & Centers
Poets & Writers Database

Find readers for your drafts
Zoetrope’s Virtual Studio

Find and Agent or Publisher
Agent Query
Association of Authors Representatives
Predators & Editors

NOTE: Most writers should avoid: ANY-ANY-ANY Publisher, Agent, Contest, or Publication that charges a fee for reading, editing, etc.
Of course I'm also reacting to another presenter's not very clear call for writers to make sure they have "platform" built on a strong "internet presence." This advice strikes me as a little sure-fire tips!-y in that it seems to suggest that such a platform can be built to serve the book in formal, well-planned deployment-style. I'm sure that's possible, especially if we are talking about a major release with a team of publicists on deck, but on the indie level, calculated campaigns often smell like what they are. I think it's a bad idea to try to backwards engineer the fact that you care, and there is no reason to wait until you are published or about to be published before entering the conversation. I mean, one hopes that being a reader is more than sufficient credential to weigh in on contemporary writing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Scranton Report: Pages & Places Book Festival

The Pages & Places Book Festival in Scranton, PA provided my first opportunity to take my Death Wishing on the road. I met the festival's coordinator, writer Bill Black, a couple of years ago when we both read at the 510 series in Baltimore, at which time he'd invited me to read at the fest. I begged off, explaining that I did not have a book to festivate. But this year I do, as does my dear friend Debra Lattanzi-Shutika, and not only were we invited to participate as authors, we were also asked to conduct writing practice/culture "workshops"--Deb did the nonfiction presentation, I did the one for fiction.

We hemmed and hawed for weeks, but finally decided to splurge for an extra night's lodging so we could attend The Prologue Party on Sept 30, which was great. There were very high profile guests, including futurist/physicist Michio Kaku, who was scheduled to give a lecture directly after the party. We did not get to meet him, but we did meet Richard Stallman and spent a good deal of party-time chatting with cartoonist and free culture activist, Nina Paley, whose latest kick is free motion quilting. We also went on a back stairs tour of the Masonic lodge, courtesy of Meeshka? Neshka? It was hard to hear. Whatever your name is, THAT was fun. As was the open bar and tiny pirogies. I'm sorry i did not get a pic of the pirogies.
Nina, Deb, and secret tour guide

The next day were the panels and workshops. We went to the Coal Region Writers panel featuring Sunbury Press authors Thomas Malafarina, Joseph Tarone, & Mike Breslin, all of whom were tremendously charming gents. But after that we were anxious to see the book sale tent--Deb's books were there but not mine, so we headed off to the workshop venue--the The Vintage Theater and Cafe, to see if they were there, instead. But no, and this made me a bit nervous. The Publication workshop was about to begin, so while the venue volunteer tracked down my missing books, we sat in on the session. I wasn't crazy about the presentation--the publisher who was speaking tended towards negativity, complaining about clueless authors the way my teaching colleagues complain about their students, but I do understand how, when you start down that line of discussion, it can get out of hand. And she was egged on by some cynical audience members. I think her presentation was mostly alienating, sad to say. However, I was happy to see Bill Black stride in during the middle with an armload of my books to be displayed in the back for sale.

At that point, the day just got better and better. Lori Hettler of TNBBC drove 30 mins with her mom and son to meet me for coffee, and that was great fun. Deb's session was well attended, and there were great questions, followed by my session, during which Rob Swartwood and his wife showed up. I didn't get many questions, except for a softball lobbed by Rob, but I did sell all the books in the back (like, 6 copies?). Rob & Holly had driven 2hrs, so we all had lunch at some spooky mafia-style steak and seafood joint. Though we were in the middle of downtown, for some reason nothing else was open. By 3 the weather had turned very nasty, and the outdoor portion of the book festival shut down, as well.

Lori Hettler & me

The last event for me was a Barrelhouse hosted reading that night, but the rain kept a lot of folks away. Nevertheless, I got to meet Amye Archer in the flesh (she's a riot), as well as make new friends with poets Dawn Leas and Alexis Czenz Belluzzi. There was an interesting confluence of themes, especially with Amye's, Dawn's and my work, which made the reading seem very special.

In general, a positive, exhausting experience, with an odd but workable mix of high profile and low profile events. If I'm invited to the festival again, I'd probably not use the event hotel but try to get something walking distance. Though there was a shuttle, we always missed it, which meant we were reliant on Deb's nav system, voiced by a lady we named "Recalculating Ruth."

UPDATE: Festival goer D. B. Echo does a wonderful recap of Deb's and my presentations here. Thank you D. B.!