Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label authors. Show all posts

Jul 22, 2021

Choosing Your Next Book

 

Happy Cute Kid Girl Choosing Two Book Stock Vector - Illustration of  doodle, cartoon: 167740868 

Whether you open a website or walk into a bookstore, there's nothing like the feeling of choosing what you're going to read next. Sadly, I've been disappointed more often than thrilled this year, and at lunch with a friend the other day, she said the same. "Maybe we read too much," she told me. "We've heard it all and seen it all as far as stories go." While that might be true, I can still get pulled into a book if it's done well, as I have been with my current read, WE BEGIN AT THE END by Chris Whitaker. It's not an easy book, but when I find myself thinking, even worrying, about the characters when I'm not reading, I know it's because of good writing. Of course, reading is as individual as writing. I can't tell you the book will affect you the same way. I can only give you my reaction.

Choosing a new book is both easy and hard in our time. There are tons of books and tons of places to find them. Still, I've noticed that the traditional publishing world is very much centered on safe choices these days, and they often don't appeal to me. One safe choice is the trending topic. When a book is a success, you can expect a couple dozen similar ones will follow. The covers will be similar in mood and style. The titles will suggest the bombshell best-seller. I got sick of books with "GIRL" in the title some time back. And the time/setting/focus will be the same. Right now it's WWII stories. After some excellent ones (and there still are some out there), we have a host of pale copies, like the one I'm currently reading, which tells me how the protagonist feels as if describing what she had for breakfast and boils down to French people=good, Nazis=bad. Quelle surprise!

The other safe choice for traditional publishers is authors who already have a name. While there are authors whose work I always buy, smart readers know some of them don't write their own stuff anymore. Look for the "with ___" on the cover, which means in most cases that some unknown author wrote it and the "big" author agreed to put his/her name on it, equaling a nice paycheck for everyone. Then there's "franchising," a way of benefiting from an author's name when he's too old to write or even after he's died. It all comes down to money, but for discerning readers, that results in disappointment.

I also note with sadness that editing has suffered--not so much in grammatical things but with allowing big-name writers to do whatever they like. Length is stressed over concise storytelling, and I sometimes find myself paging through to find the plot. I skipped about twenty pages of a legal thriller the other night, and when I jumped back in, the SAME WITNESS was still testifying. Big authors are allowed more leeway to stretch credulity as well. In a book by a well-known author, a fifty-year-old male murder victim was mistaken for a young woman because the killer covered the corpse with flowers. ("Oh, right, guv, we can't move all those flowers. We'll assume it's a young girl because she's done up like Ophelia in Hamlet.")

On the other side of traditional is independent publishing. (In case you're wondering, I started out with a traditional publisher and am now independent.) The problem here is uncertainty as to the quality of the work. Anyone--and I mean anyone--can publish on a dozen sites without investing a single penny, and that means there's a lot of bad work out there. Conscientious writers (like me!) hire editors and test their books with beta readers many times in the process, so they are fairly confident they've got a story worth reading. For a reader, however, it's hard to tell the difference when book shopping.

The other problem with independent authors' work is finding it. Type in a keyword like "mystery" and you'll get a list of the big names. But what if you've already read everything your favorites have written? There's no way to find an independent author with a similar style. We depend on social media to publicize our work, and the results are spotty at best. Often people say things like, "I really liked KIDNAP(.)org. Have you written any more books like that?"  or "I read all your historical mysteries. Do you ever publish anything else?"

"Um, yeah."

So how can you find authors new to you who write good stories? It's not impossible.

Read the recommendations of bloggers/influences who like the kinds of books you like. Here's one: https://radio-joyonpaper.com/?s=Peg+Herring

NOTE: The cover was different back then. Here's what it looks like now: 



Check out the samples on Amazon or other bookselling sites or read a few pages in your local bookstore (They don't mind). I can usually tell with that much if it's my kind of book or not.

Talk to people, online or in person, to find out what they like. I met a woman in a bookstore the other day who recommended a book to me (WWII era) and I bought it. I also often take booksellers' recommendations. They read a LOT of books, so they know if a particular story rises above the ordinary. I have found that young booksellers aren't as helpful as those closer to my age, though. Kids think J.K. Rowling was the first writer to ever explore the idea of a kid learning he wasn't just an ordinary guy--sheesh!

Apr 19, 2019

In Praise of Quiet Authors

I'm going to share something authors talk about among themselves but are wary of speaking openly about. While most authors are great at public events, there are some who shout the rest of us down, claiming what they offer is "the best book you'll ever read!" Examples: A guy who stationed his wife at the door so she could lead people to his table (past four other authors). The one who hollered at each new customer, "Come on over here and let me tell you about my book!" as they came into the room. The woman who practically moved into my space so she could tell my customers about her books. These people ignore differences in readers' expectations and the variety of tastes concerning plot, character, writing styles, etc. Their book fits all, and the other authors present are chopped liver.

The saddest part is that it sometimes works. Every other author in the room is offended, but readers are nice people, and once these loudmouths have them cornered, they often don't know how to get away without buying. I even knew a writer once who advised me to hand customers the book. "Make them take it into their hands," he said. "They won't want to hand it back, so you'll make the sale."

I never want to be that kind of author. I want you to look at my book, at the cover I chose so carefully, at the back copy I sweated over, at the first pages I wrote and rewrote a hundred times. In the end I trust you, the reader. You might buy a book because of pressure from a pushy writer, but you'll only buy one if it isn't as advertised. Still, in a world where half of everybody has written a book, readers often fall for a writer with the confidence (nerve) to say, "I guarantee you'll love this."

I'd like to praise those of us who write as well as we can and then present it to the world, often shyly and with great trepidation. We don't scream that it's the best book ever because we're aware that tastes differ. After all, there are people who hated Gone with the Wind, Great Expectations, and War and Peace, so you might not be thrilled with KIDNAP.org. I won't die from that. We quiet authors hope we'll gain an audience, but we understand that we don't get the whole audience. Instead of making grandiose claims, we let our work speak for itself.

I know there are personalities of each sort in every field. Some athletes brag that they're the greatest. Others just play the game. Some politicians tell you how much they've done for you. Others are too busy working for you to spend a lot of time talking about it.

It's that way with writers, and I can't say one kind is better than the other. But for me, the quiet author is easier to take. If one is screaming how great his book is, I'll walk right by, every single time.

Aug 7, 2017

The Skinny on Author Appearances

Muskegon Book Festival 7/17


Some might have a mistaken idea of how author appearances go. I know I did way back when.
I thought I'd sit at a table at the front of the bookstore and people would come in, see me, and say, "Oh, my, what have you written?" I'd tell them a little about it (it's called a pitch, and you practice it) and they'd say, "Sounds lovely. I'll take one--no, make that two. My sister likes mysteries too."

As the girl says in A Chorus Line, "That ain't it, kid."

Some ask you where the bathroom is.
Some ask if you can recommend a good children's book for their granddaughter.
Some ask if you carry the Wall Street Journal.
Some walk in a half-mile circle to avoid passing close enough for you to speak to them.
Some tell you about the book they're going to write when they get time.
Some tell you about their second cousin, who wrote a book about her near-death experience and her talk with Jesus, who sent her back because she still had things to do. It's amazing, and you can buy it on Amazon.
Petrolia, Ontario, library talk

There's nothing wrong with any of that. Anyone who knows me knows I love talking to people. The only ones who irritate me are those who can't even say hello for fear I might reach out and force them to purchase a book, but I can understand even that, since I've seen some pretty aggressive author sales tactics.

People who come to a bookstore or a library are readers, which automatically makes them good people even if they don't read mysteries or buy books from local authors. It's just that when friends say, "I see you're all over doing appearances and signings," my guess is their view of what happens at such events is like mine used to be, not like real life.

That said, I'll be at the Petoskey Library's annex building (across from the library itself) on Monday, August 14, from 4:00-5:00 pm for the 2nd annual Petoskey Author Fair. I know it sounds a little crazy that thirty authors will be there for only one hour, but that's what was decided, and I'm grateful organizers are willing to do these things for writers and readers. They say if there are people at 5:00 who haven't had a chance to meet all the authors, they'll keep the event going, so we might be there until 6:00. Who knows?

Stop by and meet a nice group of northern Michigan authors in many different genres. I'm told there will be ice cream.
Book Signing at Malice Domestic  (Washington D.C.)

Oct 17, 2016

Oh, Those Publishing Snobs!

I read a very snarky article yesterday about how self-published authors just don't "get it right." The author explained that as a book reviewer she felt it was her duty (yes, she really did use that word) to point out the failings of those who have the nerve to go out on their own.

I'll say at the outset that self-publishing availability does allow writers to publish work that simply isn't ready. A reader can figure out who those people are by perusing sample chapters on Amazon (or the book descriptions, written by the author in most cases). I have to admit from listening to readers and writers for years, there seem to be readers for every book, good or bad.

I object to someone who sets herself up as a judge of good books based on what the industry says and does. For example, the writer of this article claimed self-published books use the wrong fonts and improper layouts. Her wholesale condemnation and her contention that big booksellers always get it right was both offensive and silly.

Shortly after I finished reading the article, I opened a book released by a major publisher to find close lines, small print, and a spindly, faint font printed on cream-colored paper. Yuk! My first Maggie Pill book was set up according to "industry standards" that someone else chose. People said, "Loved the book--hated how hard it was to read!" After that I followed my own instincts and produced much easier-to-read books.

How many of us have half-ruined our eyes trying to read a big-time publisher's idea of  "proper" formatting? My husband will struggle through a book like that if he's interested, but I've decided life's too short. (If I really want to read it, I buy it for Kindle.) The reading public is aging, and publishers must be aware of that, but their profit comes before all else.

I've also had the "Chapters MUST start on a right-hand page" argument with publishing purists.Why? That wasteful idea should disappear, like the two-spaces-after-a-period we were taught in long-ago typing class that is now taken as a sign of senility.

The article writer went on to disparage self-pub covers, implying that authors try to save a buck by making their own. Most don't, and again, the reader's eye will tell her if the cover is bad. If it is, be suspicious of the rest of it.

The article writer works for an organization that had reviewed self-published books and now has decided not to, for the reasons she listed. That's their prerogative, I guess, and I know the number of books coming out is staggering. Still, the publishing world is changing. By ignoring self-pubbed authors, they'd have missed The Martian, The Wool Trilogy, Still Alice, and 50 Shades of Grey (not a recommendation; just sayin') to name a few.

Publishing purists ignore the fact that some writers get tired of getting pennies for their work and (in my case) a whole year where a publisher announced, "We've gone bankrupt, so all you authors get nothing." Some of us worked hard to learn what to do and figured out that we can do it ourselves. We don't just slap a book together. We want to get it right, and we hire expert help when we need it.

That's the good part of not being a snob.





Sep 26, 2016

How Much Is Enough?

Thanks, George Michael! My version of that question doesn't apply to "Star People" but rather to series books. How many books can a series contain before it gets stale?

I guess it depends on the writer, and to some extent on readers. Some series characters I have stuck with for a long time, like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski, Dean Koontz' Odd Thomas, and Michael Connelly 's Harry Bosch. Some books are more memorable than others, but in the end it's the main character that brings me back when the next book is released. I will admit in at least one case above I recently reached my limit. I'm tired of the character and have no curiosity about what the next adventure is.

Some series characters grow and change, and some don't. Harry Bosch moves through time, falling in love, gaining a daughter, rejecting change, and recently retiring from the police force. Grafton takes a different approach, consciously leaving Kinsey in the last millennium (a good choice given that she's got 24 adventures out there and two more to go).

In the case of other authors' work, I often tire of the main character after only a book or two. Other readers wait eagerly for installment #23, so it could be me. It also could be that I learn everything there is to know about the character(s) early on. To keep things interesting, some authors start doing things to their protagonists that I find unpleasant to read. Others change the character in ways that repel me. While I know that being a detective/vigilante/sleuth might make a person more and more violent, I don't want to spend time with them any more when they step over certain lines, especially if they don't suffer emotionally because of it.

What this does for me as an author is make me reluctant to write a lot of books about one character or set of characters. I suppose I would if they had more to offer the reader, but as soon as I feel we know everything about them, usually three to five books, it's time to move on. Someone recently wrote to ask for another Dead Detective novel. While I had a great time presenting my whimsical view of the Afterlife, I think that topic has been covered. If I think of something, maybe.

What works for Lee Child just doesn't work for me.

Book #4: The Last One?

Sep 12, 2016

People Ask Cool Questions #2

My first release, now in audio:Macbeth's Niece
This month I'm answering questions I often get at personal appearances. Today's question is "How long does it take to write a book?"
That's a little like "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" It's part practical, part philosophical, and mostly unanswerable.
We all know authors who take years to write a book. Some of them are quite self-righteous about it, copping a "you can't rush genius" attitude. I'm no genius, so I can't say if that's true. I've noticed, however, that the rest of us are writing as fast as we can, and while it used to take two years minimum to get a new book out, most publishers are fine these days with more than one a year.
That can lead to some loss of quality, and readers with an editor's eye bemoan the modern tendency to rush to get a book out. Still those same readers go on Facebook or Goodreads and wonder when Author X is going to stop dilly-dallying.
My writing process begins with a rough draft that's pretty terrible. When it's finished, I put it out of sight for a few weeks then go back and rewrite to make it less terrible. There's also what authors call the muddle in the middle, a point in writing a book where you've made such a mess of things that you don't think you can write your way out. Sometimes all you can do is give the muddle time to resolve.
Then there's editing. It takes time to read a book and thoughtfully decide what has to be changed, what might be changed to make it better, and what doesn't need changing but should be tweaked. Good editors take that time, so it generally takes a few back-and-forth exchanges between editor and writer to get to a point where they agree the book is solid.
To answer the question, then, these days I shoot for six months. A rough scenario might be four weeks for the rough draft, two weeks "rest," two weeks to revamp. My first reader takes over then, and in 2-4 weeks I'm making changes she suggests. Then the editor goes at it, and we back-and-forth for a month or two. When that's done, I submit to the copy editor, who irons out the leftover wrinkles.
That's if all goes well, of course. There are times when one or more of those things takes longer, which sets the whole process back. And of course life intervenes sometimes and says, "You won't be writing this week, so just accept it."
I didn't mention research yet, but I spend a lot of time finding out things I don't know and checking on things I might or might not know. 
A caveat for those just starting out: this is my process after twenty-plus books. It took me MUCH longer in the beginning. The "one book a year" advice is probably a good starter's rule, because as a newbie, you really don't know what you don't know yet.

Jun 22, 2016

An Author's Bucket List

Panel at Printers' Row 6-16
 In the preface to Iberia, James Michener explained that he'd conceived the idea for the book decades before, made a bunch of notes about it, and then put it on a shelf because he had too many other things going. I think many authors have the same experience: too many ideas, not enough time. I always tell people I'll die with ideas for more books in my head.

It takes time to make an idea into a book, which is why, though we all might have "a book inside us," we don't all write it down. It's a daunting task, and even if/when you do write it down, it needs editing and reworking, over and over. Even books that seem light, like cozies, require multiple drafts. (I know there are authors who claim to write it down only once. A: I don't believe them and B: if it IS true, I'm guessing they work it over many, many times in their heads before they make that one draft. The rest of us can't keep all that stuff inside--we'd explode.)

Some ideas are good but difficult to plot. I have a couple of books that I started and had to leave because I eother don't know where I want it to go or how I'm going to get there. A book I released last winter, DOUBLE TOIL & TROUBLE, was years in the making because it was a romance (not what I'm known for nowadays)  and a sequel to MACBETH'S NIECE. I wanted to finish the macFinlaech story, but each girl's story unfolds in turns, and I hadn't been able to make them come back together in a balanced way until inspiration hit--years after I began it.

I also have ideas that are cool but I just don't have the time right now to write them. With three series going, there wasn't time to write the mystery about the woman recovering from a coma or the sequel to SHAKESPEARE'S BLOOD I'd started back when an agent first took the book on. She said, "Get to work on the sequel NOW!" I did, but I never finished it, and that agent never sold the first book, so the second one's been lying around 3/4 finished. Maybe this fall...

There are other ideas, some vague, some partially done. It might be true that they don't deserve to be completed if they haven't fired my imagination enough to do it, but on the other hand, I'm by necessity a compartmentalist: I work on the book I'm working on until I'm happy with it (or until a publisher is!) That means the uncompleted books on my bucket list are probably deserving, they simply have to wait their turn. Now that I've finished the Dead Detective and Loser series, and now that my publisher for the Simon & Elizabeth series has announced they won't be publishing any more mysteries, it might be time for some of the books on the bucket list to get their turn at bat.

Jun 13, 2016

What's a Printers' Row?


A long time ago, there was an area in Chicago where book publishers tended to locate. They started a book festival, and the rest is history. Though the book publishers are mostly gone, every year in June they take to the streets, closing them down to traffic so tents can be set up for blocks and blocks representing book sellers, book publishers, and everyone associated with that.

This year it was mid-90s all festival weekend, but since it was Chicago, there was a breeze off the lake that saved us all. I gathered with a group in a tent wrapped in crime scene tape: Midwest Mystery Writers of America and Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore. With me were well-known authors like Sara Paretsky and Marcia Clark as well as lots of writers like me, not so well known but just as hard-working.

It's always fun to get together with authors I've known for years and meet authors I've never met. Some I know online and others I've never heard of before. I confess to a desire to read all their books, but of course that's impossible. I keep trying, though!

 Since we were already in Chi-town, John and I visited the museums: Science & Industry, Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum, where we got to see the terra cotta warriors from China. I think I managed to impress my husband in all those places!

May 30, 2016

The Bitter End

Not me. My hero, Dorothy Parker
I posted on Facebook the other day that each book I write comes to the point where I'd like to tell the reader, "I've brought you this far, now you finish it!"
I was surprised to read in the responses I got that it's been done. Can't imagine reading a whole book and being left in the lurch like that. As one respondent pointed out, "As the author, you know the characters better than anyone else. You have to tell us what happens to them."
Yes, it's the author's responsibility to sort out the mess she's created. Still:
1) I'm tired of them at that point. Like one's children, an author loves her characters, but there are times when she'd like to love them from a galaxy far, far away.
2) Some readers won't be satisfied. I've heard from some who wanted more romance (okay, sex) between the characters to end the book. One reader complained that a certain character would never have given in and obeyed the bad guy who stuck a gun to her head. (Maybe I should have said, "He pointed the gun at her and she said, "Stop that," so he dropped the gun, gave himself up to the police, and admitted everything.) In another instance, a woman at a book group expressed vexation that I never told what happened to a certain very minor character at the end of the book. (She lived her life--I guess.)
3)  The biggest reason I don't look forward to writing the end is that it's hard, especially in a mystery, where a writer can't just fade out, as some literary novelists do. There has to be an accounting of some sort, and though I've had in mind all the way along who's guilty, making the ending logical, exciting, and summary of all previous events takes concentration. Every strand should pull together and make a nice whole. There shouldn't be a point where the reader thinks, "That wasn't fair."
 I've read books where the killer came out of the woodwork, like an ant when dinner's over, and it irritates me. The clues should be there, and the ending should make it clear it couldn't have been anyone else. One of my favorite comments ever from a reader of my work was, "I didn't figure out the ending, but I should have been able to."
If you haven't guessed by now, my task this week is to end a book I've been working on. I know how it ends. I know where each character needs to step in and do his part.
I just haven't written it down yet.

Oct 26, 2015

Plain Talk for Writers: It Takes Longer than You Think


What takes longer, you ask?
Everything.
It takes longer to sell a book than you'd like.
It takes longer to produce a book than you estimate.
It takes longer to become a familiar name to readers than you expected.
It takes longer to to keep up with promotion than you ever imagined.

Let's look at those one by one.

Sell the book. Five years is the estimated average time it takes a writer to find a publisher. If you're hoping for a big publisher, it could be even more. Yes, I know you read about an author who hit it big with her first book. Hooray for her, but most of us don't have that experience. We just don't talk about it because the average reader thinks if a book is "good enough," it's going to get published.
Yeah, right.

Produce the book. Once your book is accepted by a publisher, you're on their timeline. You can tell all your friends about it, but they're likely to have to wait more than a year to see the book in print. My publisher puts each manuscript they receive into a queue, and the publication date will always more than a year away due to the process: editing, re-editing, cover designing, formatting, submitting for review, and copy-editing. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
If you self-publish you're responsible for all that, and while that's beneficial in some ways, it's a lot more work--more time spent not writing.

Become a familiar name. Try this one: Who are Adam Johnson, Nathan Englander, and Eowyn Ivey?
They were the top three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013 (Johnson won it). If we don't take note of these authors' names, why would we recall the author of the murder mystery we read last week?

Keep up with promotion. Here's what I've done so far this morning: I checked my emails for both Peg and Maggie, answering some, deleting a lot, and sending out codes for one of Maggie's audio books. Then I sent a guest blog post to a fellow author who will use it on November 3rd. I wrote it yesterday, so today I proofed it, added links, photos, and a bio. Monday is blog day for me and Maggie. In addition, each day I try to follow some of the advice authors are given: tweet interesting things, post on FB, send a newsletter to those who opt in to learn what I'm up to. I set up my own book signings and talks, although people are finally starting to ask me to speak rather than me asking them. I'm also preparing for Magna Cum Murder this weekend, which meant answering the panel moderators' questions so they know what to ask about when I get there. In the back of my mind I'm searching for something cool to give away there (It's in Indianapolis) to make people take note of my work in the mash of authors who'll be there trying to do the same thing. (One author gave everyone in the room ten dollars. Impressive, but honestly, I didn't buy her book with it and I don't recall her name!)

The point is there's always something I could be doing to "make it" as an author, and a lot of it isn't writing books.

I'm not complaining. I love everything I do that connects to writing, and I would never discourage anyone from doing it. It's just that it's always a surprise to me when I think, "I can have that book out by the end of the year." ...It's almost the end of October, and I'm not even close.


Oct 19, 2015

Plain Talk for Writers: It's Work

Some things you need to accept:

1. You're not as good as you think you are.
Other people have ideas as good as yours. In fact, it's hard to be truly creative with all the stories that are out there. Others write as well as you do too. Admit it, and you'll be easier to be around.
2. You're going to work harder than you expect to be successful.
There is no Book Fairy who sprinkles shiny stuff on your work and gets everyone to notice it. There's no way to get readers to pay attention if they don't want to. There are things you can do that actually turn readers off, like constantly telling what a great book you've written.
3. Nobody knows what works. If there were a formula--well, there isn't. Badly written books get to be Best Sellers and really good books get rejected by publishers or lie languishing if they do get published.
4. Writing well isn't easy. Note the qualifier. A monkey can sit down at a computer and produce something. An author knows it takes time: time to write a coherent first draft, time to make it better with multiple edits, time to get constructive criticism from others, time to rewrite and rework until it's the best story she is capable of telling.

AND ONE MORE THING

If you're a real writer, none of those things will deter you.

Sep 15, 2015

Saturday, Sept. 26: Alpena Book Festival



Welcome to the Alpena Book Festival!

All visitors who register for the ABF will receive a free Passport. At each panel or participating business they visit, they’ll get a stamp on their Passport. A completed Passport (10 stamps) enters the visitor into a drawing for baskets of prizes donated by authors, publishers, and Downtown businesses.
Visitors who donate to READ* ($10.00 suggested donation) receive a tote bag filled with books and other freebies. Tickets found in the tote bags can be used to enter drawings for additional prize baskets. Tickets can be purchased separately, but the tote bags are a great deal.
Sessions listed below are open to all, but space might be limited. All sessions run 50 minutes, leaving 10 minutes to get to the next one. Authors will return to the bookstore that has their books after their sessions to meet readers and sign.

10:00
Panel discussion: Stories That Inspire-Olivet Book & Gift
Panelists: Christine Johnson/Zachary Bartels/Delores Liesner/Tedd Galloway/Jenna Mindel
Inspirational books are reader favorites: great stories, great characters, and a sense that with the right outlook, the world isn’t such a terrible place.
Panel discussion: The Allure of Mysteries-Blue Phoenix Books
Panelists: PJ Parrish/ Dan Ames/ Elizabeth Buzzelli/ Susan Froetschel/ Douglas Cameron
Who doesn’t love a good mystery? Join 5 excellent mystery writers to discover how they devise those deadly plots!
Children’s Program-Alpena Public Library (10:00-12:00)
Children of elementary school age will be entertained at the library with book-related activities.

11:00
Panel discussion: Non-fiction: Real Books-Art in the Loft
Panelists: Mark Thompson/Elaine Stenger/Tedd Galloway/Delores Liesner
They say truth is stranger than fiction. These authors tell stories they didn’t make up: stories of things that really happened.
Panel discussion: Exotic Times, People, & Locales-Olivet Book & Gift
Panelists: Susan Froetschel/ Peg Herring/Pegg Thomas
Other times and places fascinate readers. Join these authors who write about them and learn how they research to get it right and write it to pull you in.

10:00-12:00
Pitch Advice (15 minute sessions)-Cabin Creek Coffee Meeting Room
Some of our panelists have agreed to meet with aspiring writers and talk with them about their work and how to present it to agents and editors in order to grab that publishing contract.
NOTE: You must register for these sessions before the Festival. Call or email Blue Phoenix Books to set up an appointment

READ is the Alpena Library’s adult literacy program, promoting communication development among those who face reading challenges.

12:00-3:00
The Long Conversation-Thunder Bay Winery Meeting Room
Join the authors for an informal discussion of books, writing, reading, and publishing. We’re sure the Winery won’t mind if you buy yourself one of their wonderful wines as you chat.

1:00
Panel discussion: Creating Memorable Characters-Blue Phoenix Books
Panelists: Connie Doherty/Christopher Chagnon/Zachary Bartels/Colleen Nye
Readers often argue about whether plot or character is more important in creating beloved books. These authors discuss how they create characters you love—or love to hate.
YA Session: The Many Current Choices for Young Adult Readers-As You Wish
Session leaders: Chanda Stafford/Laura Kolar
Dark or sunny, romantic or adventurous, realistic or fantastical: Writers today offer readers “in the middle” some great choices. Join our YA authors to talk about books and get some for free!

2:00
Q& A Session: Comics & Graphic Arts-Bob’s Bullpen
Join owner Bob LeFevre to learn about comics, drawing, and working in the field.
Panel discussion: Local History-Alpena Public Library
Marjorie Brandenburg/Tuffy & Bonnie Cross/ Deloris Law/Gerald Micketti/John Porter/Janet Young
What makes Michigan such a wonderful place to read about? The history, the land features, the people—and more.
What Makes a Genre, & Which One Do You Read?-Blue Phoenix Books
Panelists: P.J. Coldren/Christopher Chagnon/Connie Doherty/Laura Kolar/Christine Johnson
Genres, subgenres—what are they? When you look for a book, it helps to know what the industry calls what you like. Are you a cozy person or a noir fan? We’ll help you figure it out.

3:00
Panel discussion: Series: Continuing the Story-Olivet Book & Gift
Panelists: Peg Herring/PJ Parrish/Dan Ames/Elizabeth Buzzelli/Douglas Cameron
Writers of series face unique problems: keeping it fresh, allowing for characters’ life changes, and even killing off characters (but never the dog!)
Panel discussion: Romance between the Pages - Alpena Library
Panelists: Chanda Stafford/, Pegg Thomas/ Jenna Mindel/Colleen Nye/Angela Aaron
Stormy courtships, intriguing secrets, happy ending--romance is a wildly popular genre with a wide range of heat levels. Join these romance authors for a run-down, from sweet to Oh My!

4:00
Poetry Slam-Fresh Palate
Come and hear the Alpena area’s creative types read their work!
Panel discussion: Publishing in 2015-Alpena Library
Panelists: P.J. Coldren/Elaine Stenger/Mark Thompson/Angela Aaron
What does it take to sell books at this point in time? In some ways it’s easier than ever. In others, it’s much harder.

 5:00 Drawings for many wonderful prize baskets with gifts from downtown stores and books from visiting authors and their publishers.

At the Point Where I Can Tell You

 I sent my next book to the copy editor a few days ago, which for me is a major turning point. It's a commitment of sorts; the book that...