Thursday, May 27, 2010

I have me some new Author Pics!

I’ve been debating for a year whether to hire a professional photographer to do a whole photo shoot and currently I’m in debt SEVERAL GRAND after last month’s April 15th Tax Day so I’m feeling quite broke.
My Scholastic publicist called last week and said “I need a photo of you right away! The Albuquerque Journal wants to do an article/feature/interview on you!”

Actually, I don’t know exactly what they want to do, but they want a photo NOW. With HIGH resolution which my profile pic on LJ and my website are *not*.  

No time to call a photographer and get shots and proofs made up let alone go shopping for new clothes and a hair highlight touch-up – with only 24 hours, it’s impossible. 

Darling publicist emails back: “Just grab a camera and a family member and take some at home. In fact, go outside and take some shots since your book is set on the bayou.” 

Great idea! So we do exactly that and these are the best ones:
Honesty is the best policy, hee, hee.

NOTE: These have NOT been photo shopped or touched up AT ALL. Thinking about getting my son to take away some of those neck and eye lines . . . 

Do you think I should hire a pro and get some *real* author photos done? Goodness, what will it cost me? Gulp.

Monday, May 24, 2010

So you Want to Write a Movie?

I attended the LDStorymakers FILM MAKERS PANEL in April and it was fascinating.

I’m a sucker for screenplays. I’ve written a couple of screenplays based on my books and two summers ago worked pretty intensely on a 20 page treatment with a professional screenwriter/script doctor who makes his living doing this and supports his family and four children while living in a small town in NM (after a 14 year stint in Europe doing movies in Germany, Sweden and Norway.)

The panel consisted of a combination of multi-million dollar movie project writers/directors, a guy who has worked for Disney, and a couple of very small budget movie makers.

Question: “What do these writers/directors have in common?”

Answer: They all want to see a story that moves them, a story they can’t stop thinking about, whether it’s a screenplay or a book with movie potential.

Remember: ALL books will be changed when it’s turned into a screenplay. A book has to be changed for the best dramatic effect. All that interior monologue and thinking and realizations need to come through action and dialogue.

Basic Definition of a screenplay: Action/Dialogue/Action/Dialogue/Action/Dialogue. You get the idea.

Question: How much can I make writing for movies?

Answer: Approximately 3% of the total cost of the movie will go to the book author. So on a small film; that total payment may only be about $5,000 - $10,000. Do the math for big budget films – of which there is a wild variety of prices and budgets and the reputation of the screenwriter comes into play here as well so you might get $50-75,000, but rarely more than six figures or millions. Unless you’re Dan Brown.

Recommended reading from the pros:

The BEST way to learn how to write a great screenplay – READ GREAT SCREENPLAYS. (Doesn’t that sound like the same advice for those of you who are writing books? Q: How do I write a great book? Answer: Read and study great books!)

Question: So where do you find great screenplays to read ‘em?

I have the answer to that, too!
Go online to: Samuel French’s screenplay store. These do have a cost attached to them – from a few bucks to about $40 bucks, but they can be ordered online easy peasy.

Drew’s Script-o-Rama –this one is a freebie and there are hundreds to browse.

Simply Scripts – another freebie site which includes television and movies never produced.

Have fun!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy, happy!

Just returning from a crazy, fun week.

My son's college graduation - we finally made it! As an Asperger young man, it has been so much angst, tears, frustration, hard work, tough homework, oral projects that were terrifying for him, the driving him back and forth, the retaking of classes . . . but he now has a B.S. in Biology and a minor in English. And even though it was really, really, really hard, he walked the line in his cap and gown at the UNM Biology Dept Ceremony.

He's the tall one with the new goatee. :-)

I was having a weird hair day . . . but they gave the Mom's flowers!

He actually relaxed and took some candid pictures!

The Cake at Home!

"The Thinker" Pose.

Mom/Grandma was here and we went to the Aquarium and the botanical gardens and had an absolutely lovely day.

Then I headed off to California for my last school Author Visit of the year! Had a frantic, crammed, but wonderful day. I needed to be around those 3-6th graders. They are a breath of fresh air and delight and cuteness!

I'm a bit fuzzy, but you get the picture . . .

Busy, busy writing!

Reading our stories aloud.

Q&A Time:

One of the questions: "I like your yellow skirt."

Another question: "I like your hair."

Best part of the day:

A girl who called herself my biggest fan ran up and hugged me and then turned to her friend: "I'll never wash my jacket again."

Aaaahhhh. Love it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

I haven't posted a teaser in "forever". This is the opening of the new manuscript I turned in a month ago to my editor.
Current title:
Circle of Secrets

Most folks call Miz Mirage Allemond a swamp witch.
I’m supposed to call her Mamma.
So when Mirage cracks open the front door and I see her wild black hair writhing in the wind like serpents, my pulse goes so fast I can’t breathe right.
Mirage’s black eyes bore into mine like she can read my deepest thoughts. Like she has a crystal ball and uses it regularly.
             As she shuts the front door, we stare at each other for a moment, but I drop my eyes before she can suck my soul out.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lunch with the SPELLBINDERS - May issue!

~Grab a sandwich and a soda and have lunch with us before we break for the summer~

Great conversation, funny and tingly research stories, plus a great writing idea for your kids and students over the summer!

(And remember - if you've ever missed a past
SPELLBINDER issue, go here to read them all!)

Spellbinders Logo
May, 2010
 Feature Article - Lunch with the Spellbinders 
Carolee Dean, Kimberley Griffiths Little, and Lois Ruby 
GroupShotWelcome to Lunch with the Spellbinders.  Before breaking for the summer we wanted to take a breather from our hectic year.  We're busy gals!  We have husbands and children, we teach, we present at schools and libraries and conferences, we travel for fun and research, and through it all, we write, write, write.  But for now, let's kick back ...

KIMBERLEY:  It's so nice to get together and have lunch with you ladies before we all go our separate ways for the summer to launch our upcoming books and research our new ones.

CAROLEE: Why don't we talk about some of our research stories/experiences?  During my last research trip I visited the Texas Prison Museum.  I got to interview the retired warden who is now the curator of the museum.  He used to oversee all the executions at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.  Boy, did he have some interesting stories to tell.

LOIS:  Sounds deadly! Was it hard to pin him down for details? 

CAROLEE:  No, actually, he was very helpful.  He even sent me photos of the prison before I made my trip out to Texas to see it.

Lois Ruby
LOIS:  It's the visuals and tiny details that give our stories zip and credibility.  I couldn't write about China without going there, so I made two trips for my novel on war-torn Shanghai and the underground spy network.  Believe me, dashing around as a spy during the Japanese occupation was deadly-dangerous.

KIMBERLEY:  Compared to being chased down by an alligator?  When I was researching The Healing Spell, a gator came out of the bayou and crawled up the back lawn of the house we were staying in as I was filming him.  I was so excited I didn't realize he was only a few feet away and getting closer.  My husband called out a warning and I raced for the house, my heart pounding. Mr. Elward kept saying that gator was more scared of me than I was of him.  Right!  This from a guy who grew up in the swamp, "running around barefoot," and jumping into the bayou as a kid - with the gators - on hot summer days.
CAROLEE:  One of the things I enjoy most about research is getting to meet people I never would have known if I weren't working on a book.  While I was writing Take Me There, I had breakfast with a man convicted of murder.  He spent 17 years on death row before being exonerated because someone else confessed to the criime.  Not only were his stories about prison fascinating, but I also learned some frightening things about the justice system.

LOIS:  So many of our stories are about justice.  There sure wasn't a lot of it in Shanghai during World War II.  Ilse and Erich, my characters in Shanghai Shadows, were among the 20,000 Jewish refugees locked into the Shanghai ghetto from 1943 until the end of the war. They had to appeal to a totally insane Japanese officer just to get a pass to leave the ghetto and hear those metal gates clang behind them.  Of course, they were spies, but the officer didn't know that!  It was sobering and exciting to research that book, stand in that very place, and interview ghetto survivors.

CAROLEE:  I'll bet that was a life changing experience, Lois. It's ironic that I love research as much as I do, because when I was a kid, I hated all those note cards and biographies.

LOIS:  I loved that stuff!  I've still got shoeboxes filled with notes from school reports. I guess that's why I became a librarian.

Kimberley Griffiths Little
KIMBERLEY:  I hated researching term papers, but when it's something you're interested in, that makes all the difference.  Twelve years ago, on my first trip to Louisiana, I drank some of that magical bayou water, and have been enchanted ever since.

CAROLEE:  I hope that's a metaphor, but knowing how deeply you get into your research, I wouldn't be surprised if you actually did drink the bayou water.

KIMBERLEY:  I'll take the Fifth on that little metaphor.  I've returned to Louisiana and Mississippi numerous times, made some wonderful friends, and gobbled up every book I could buy, borrow, or steal so I could bring my upcoming novel, The Healing Spell, to life.  All the research was worth it: last week I got my first book review from The Cajun Book Lady, who said the book was so accurate and spot on, she thought I'd been born and raised right on the bayou. Book reviews don't get better than that - AYEEEE!

LOIS:  I've had some reviews that sent me soaring, and others that made me want to crawl into a cave until the book disappeared from the face of the earth.  But even miserable reviews won't keep me from writing on the themes and subjects that pique my curiosity.

Carolee Dean
CAROLEE:  I agree that research is so much more interesting when you find a topic you're passionate about.  As a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, I work with a lot of kids with learning disabilities.  When I found out the alarming statistics regarding the number of people in prisons who can't read, I was compelled to write Take Me There.  It's the story of a teenage boy who goes looking for his father who is in prison in Texas.

KIMBERLEY: I never knew that learning disability stats were your impetus for Take Me There, Carolee.

CAROLEE: Among many other things.  I've had several students with parents in prison, and I've seen how strongly it affects a teenager to have a parent who's incarcerated.

LOIS:  Things sure come around, don't they?  I did my master's thesis on prison libraries, especially San Quentin, and that was way before I knew you, Carolee.

CAROLEE: Ooh, that sounds interesting. I'd love to read it. It's amazing how many famous people educated themselves in prison through the use of the prison library.

KIMBERLEY: It would be great if Take Me There could end up in prison libraries across the country. 

LOIS: Interesting that the three of us write about such different topics, but we're similar in that we all like to create vivid settings for our books. 

KIMBERLEY:  The new manuscript I just turned into my editor stays in the bayou country, but with a whole new spin: hoodoo beauty spells and graveyards and ghosts.  A spooky experience I had in the Natchez, Mississippi cemetery came in real handy.  Dusk in a hilly cemetery with graves 150 years old sent the hairs on my neck straight up when I heard someone walking up behind me, crunching leaves-and when I turned, thinking it was my friend, nobody was there.  I was completely alone-and got out of there fast!

LOIS:  It's serendipitous that Kim and I were both drawn to bayou country and voodoo for our recent books.  The area's steeped in otherworldly, weird history and is so rich in atmosphere that it's irresistible to a curious writer.  What are the odds of two New Mexico authors publishing Louisiana novels?  Last October I got to go to the Louisiana Book Festival to talk about my book, The Secret of Laurel Oaks, and this year Kim's going for The Healing Spell. Very exciting!

CAROLEE:  I wish the kids at my high school knew how exciting it was to research fascinating topics.

KIMBERLEY:  Here's a great writing/research project for all of our parent and teacher readers: Wouldn't it be fun for your students/kids to interview people they meet over the coming summer break, then come back and write about the interesting places they've been and people they've met, and share it all with their classmates? I'd love to listen to those stories!

LOIS:  Not like the boring old "what I did last summer" essays.  It would be about real people doing quirky or scary or funny things.  Everyone has intriguing history to share, if you know how to ask the right questions and take the time to listen.

CAROLEE: Well, I guess now's the time to say goodbye so the three of us can get busy researching our next books.

ALL:  Bye for now, everyone.  Have a great summer.  See you again next fall with the October issue! 

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K. LittleKimberley's Book BuzzKimberley Griffiths Little
Enjoy our new and upcoming titles!  
Take Me There
Take Me There
Dylan Dawson is trying to pull his life together after his release from juvenile hall. But going straight isn't easy, and Dylan just can't seem to keep out of trouble-or keep away from rich, beautiful Jess, who is way too good for him, and way too taken.
Dylan's problem's escalate fast, and soon he has no choice but to hit the road. He heads south for Texas, in search of his father. (Dylan has no idea how his life became such a mess, but he knows his dad is at the root of it.) When Dylan finds him, he certainly gets answers--but they're answers to questions he wishes he'd never asked.
Sometimes sexy, sometimes sad, and always intense, Take Me There is a dark and surprising novel about a boy on the run who's headed nowhere fast. (Synopsis by Simon & Schuster)

Carolee's Web site  Order from Amazon  Order from Barnes & Noble  Put Take Me There on your Goodreads list
Healing Spell
Healing Spell
Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it's crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother's coma, but she can't tell anyone. It's up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.
Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption. Livie's powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.
Set in the lush bayou of Louisiana, Kimberley Griffiths Little brings Livie's story to life with power and grace. (Synopsis by Scholastic Press)
Kimberley's Web Site  Order from Amazon  Order from Barnes & Noble  Put The Healing Spell on your Goodreads list

Shanghai Shadows
Shanghai Shadows
Ilse and Erich, an Austrian brother/sister duo, survive World War II in Shanghai, China.  Life is so different for them way on the other side of the world, but not awful -- yet.  But when the U.S. comes into the War, conditions worsen with a blockade preventing necessities like food, medicine, and beloved American movies from reaching China. Else and Erich refuse to give in to the bone-chilling cold and blistering heat of Shanghai, or to the hardships and starvation of a city under Japanese occupation.  
With the help of the kindly Japanese neighbors, they plunge into the underground spy network and are soon steeped in intrigue and danger around every bend. And then a strange and shocking development in their family changes everything. Everything. 
"For suspense and surprises, twists and turns, no one invents plots like Lois Ruby!"  (Linda Silver, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, September/October, 2006.)

Lois' Web Site  Order from Amazon  Order from Barnes & Noble  Put Shanghai Shadows on your Goodreads List
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Turning the Conference Notebook Page . . .

If you missed my post last Friday about author Bree Despain's workshop on Paranormal Young Adult books, go here: Peek Into My Notebook . . .
Josi Kilpack is a Very Cute Author with lots of energy and enthusiasm and the writer of delicious romantic suspense who gave a great workshop on how to make your first Bookstore Booksigning or Book Launch Party a great success.


1. When you're scheduling your book party, don't schedule more than two hours. Ninety minutes is even better. You don't want the party to lag and you don't want to get tired and feel yourself and your smile drooping. Ninety minutes is plenty of time to give your talk, do your dramatic reading, autograph books, visit with everyone and eat all that great food.

2. Door prizes are fun! Something simple and not too costly, but prizes give it a real festive air and get people excited to attend.

3. Guest List: Invite everyone you know, no matter where they live. You never know when they might be in town the day of your book signing and attend!

4. Send Invitations no more than two weeks before. People will forget if you send them out too early. Your invitations can be a postcard, a note on cardstock, flyers on community bulletin boards, your email list, Facebook Friend's list, Twitter, and an announcement through your website. Create a Facebook Event with details. (My own personal note: I get invitations to events on FB that have no details of location, town, address, or time of the event so don't forget those details!) Include On-line Ordering for those who can't attend the event.

5. Pace your Social Networking Announcements. Don't saturate announcements through your online venues and bore people or bug them with all the me, me, me talk.

6. Invite the Media. Send out invitations to librarians, teachers, the local newspaper and radio, other writers, neighbors, potential readers and past readers.


7. Dress For Success: Coordinate with your book cover! Not too formal (don't wear a cocktail dress and pearls unless that's the kind of party you're putting on and have let your guests know ahead of time, but truly, it's not needed for a book signing.) But not too casual (no jeans or jammies ot T-shirts).

8. Take full advantage of THE NIGHT! Have a sign-up email sheet for those who want to get on your mailing list.

9. Give each guest attention - make things positive. Let your guests know you were glad they were there. Don't be monopolized by your long-lost roommate from twenty years ago who wants to catch up and keep you in a corner.


10. Feel good about what you've done, the work you put into it, the time and money well spent. No Regrets! For those people who could not attend and ask how the book launch went, be enthusiastic and DO NOT bemoan all the people who didn't show up. Even if all you had was 5 people ACT AS IF IT WAS THE GREATEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE AND YOU HAD A FULL HOUSE. Your attitude and enthusiasm will infect your non-attendees to run out and get your book. And they won't miss your next party!

11. Send THANK YOU NOTES to the bookstore and its employees and all those friends and family who helped you out. Blog your Thank You's. Facebook Thank you's to all your attendees.

12. Evaluate: Do more people know about your book after your launch - whether they attended or not? Think about what you would do differently next time? What have you learned?




Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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