This was a fun day shared with some of my favorite Indie Authors. We had hoped it to be a full weekend, but alas, the storm clouds had other plans for Sunday. Books and Rain are not good friends, so we chose to make it Saturday only, and avoid any unpleasant arguments between the two. And still, we had a great day!
It's a treat to spend festival time with other authors. Working together, we get to offer a greater variety of books to readers, reach out to people who perhaps wouldn't have discovered us or our books, share time "talking shop", and simply having fun hanging out.
Rochester puts on a fun festival, and I plan to return again next year. There were lots of fun events for families, chain saw carving, Irish Step Dancers, Civil War Re-enactors, classic cars, pony rides, and so much more. The event was well organized. They were super-nice people, and very accommodating. The staff made it easy to find the event space, with plenty of signs. We got to pull right up and unload at our space. That's always a bonus. Books can be heavy, and it's nice to avoid the long walks from parking lots with boxes. They did a good job publicizing the event in local media and on social media. Foot traffic was good, despite the disparaging weather.
We met some wonderful people, and sold some books. Meeting readers is something I think every writer enjoys. We get to learn about what they like to read, and perhaps get some new ideas for an upcoming project. The young readers are so cute. Their faces light up when they see a cover that catches their attention. They encourage us to continue on our literary paths. It's nice to imagine these new readers as adults one day, surrounded by books.
Lessons learned from my first "in the wild" festival:
1. Wear water-proof shoes, just in case it rains.
2. Make sure the canopy has well-anchored sides to reduce wind effects.
3. Bring extra cash for the AMAZING french fries you might encounter.
4. Always bring good friends to share the day!
A Huge THANK YOU to Donald Levin, Brenda Hasse, and Charles Stern for making it a fantastic day!
There are few things in this life that make me happier than seeing a friend share his gifts with the world. I was privileged to watch it all unfold again, at Donald Levin's book launch event for Cold Dark Lies, the latest installment of the Martin Preuss Mysteries.
Held at the creatively conceived Color & Ink Gallery in Hazel Park, this was a wonderful event filled with art, music and literature. Sunshine streamed in the gigantic windows, laughter from friends and family filled the space, music rocked the rafters, and we reveled in storytelling at its finest.
Donald read just enough from the book to give us the flavor of the novel, and become enticed by the story, without giving it all away. He read several passages, and even shared a section about my favorite character, Toby, Martin Pruess' son.
After the reading, the audience asked questions and what could have easily been a compelling course on the craft of writing, given Donald's history as a college professor... it was far better. Instead, we delighted in a comfortable conversation with friends about mystery, life, love, and the element of surprise.
After a brief intermission, and some snacks, we were thrilled by the musical talents of Donald and his author pal, Thomas Galasso. With three pieces that were representative of the novel, we enjoyed acoustic guitar and banjo; with Thomas offering vocals. This certainly was not your average book launch party... but then, Donald Levin is not your average author!
There were two major highlights of the day for me... first, I bought an authorgraphed copy of the book (yes, I'm a serious fan... squeeee!)
Second, after the party tapered down, Donald and Thomas allowed me to get up close and personal with their music. You see, being deaf in my left ear means that I hear the world differently... Donald allowed me to feel his music by placing my hand on the guitar as he played. Truly a gift I will always cherish!
Thank you, Donald Levin for a tremendously entertaining afternoon! I wish you continued success and I eagerly await your next literary adventure!
Visit Donald Levin's website HERE to learn about ordering his book and upcoming events where you can meet him.
Yesterday afternoon I did something that I never thought would be a part of my life... I hosted my first television series. It is a little strange, and yet oddly comfortable, simultaneously. I thought, television is something that "the big guys" do, not little start-ups... and then I remembered that the world has changed dramatically since I was a teenager, and truly, anything that I can imagine, can indeed become real. With all the advancements in technology, nothing is completely out of reach.
But enough waxing romantic... here's the thing... It is SO MUCH FUN to host a TV show! I worked in the theatre for several years in my younger life, and being in a television studio is akin to that experience... but with more advanced technology. The rush of the technical rehearsal is the same, and the excitement of "show day" is the same. The jitters of actually recording is the same as a live production. Simply put, it's just plain fun!
The show, hosted on CMNTV, a local station in Troy, Michigan, is called Indie Reads TV, and my goal with this program is to shine a much-needed spotlight on Independent Authors and other interesting bookish people. It's so difficult for indie authors to get the kind of exposure that the major publishers can offer, and I wanted to make a little dent in that disparity.
The long-term goal of the program is to produce one-on-one interviews with authors and those who support authors. I also want to also offer opportunities to bring more awareness to special bookish events happening in the community with remote shoots, and to provide additional in-studio programming for audiences like poetry and story slams, storytime readings for children, literary panel discussions, and perhaps even a literary game show. My vision is to utilize this magnificent outreach tool as a way to enhance awareness not only of our local authors as celebrities, but to also offer programming for viewers that encourages them to embrace literature, and get more enjoyment out of picking up a book.
My first day of recording went well, and I'm pleased with the production. Yes, newbies are certain to make a few mistakes... I blundered a few of my questions, didn't always have the "snappy" retort as I would have liked, and we experienced a few technical glitches due to my inexperience with the equipment... but I'm certain that will all get smoothed out the more shows I get under my belt. I hope when you watch, you'll forgive my foibles.
We've got four shows "in the can": Episode One features Donald Levin; Episode Two features Andrew Charles Lark; Episode Three features Brenda Hasse; and Episode Four features Kate McNeil. The broadcast dates will be revealed shortly, and the programs will be available for viewing on CMNTV channel 18 in local neighborhoods, on the CMNTV website, and later on the Pages Promotions website, our YouTube channel, and there will be links to the programs on our social media channels. There will be lots of opportunities for the public - YOU - to watch and learn about these fascinating authors.
I have upcoming interviews with Mel Corrigan from Scribe Publishing, Indie Author Wendy Thomson, Indie Author Andy Lockwood, and Bailey Lockwood of Just Ducky Editing Services. Also, I'm super-excited to take the remote equipment out into the field to film Donald Levin's book launch on Saturday, May 11 at Color & Ink Studios in Hazel Park, so watch for that program to be available shortly, as well.
Watch for broadcast dates and times to be posted shortly. And... come back to our website frequently for more shows and special appearances by People of The Book on Indie Reads TV!
If you're an Indie Author, in an industry (like editing, cover design, etc) that supports Indie Authors, an Indie Bookshop owner, or an English teacher... I want to host you on my program! Please visit the Indie Reads TV show page on our website, and complete the interest form. I'd love to get you on my production schedule.
Before I go... a BIG, HUGE, THANK YOU to CMNTV and their fabulous staff for making television accessible to the community! We appreciate your guidance and support in creating local television.
This was my second "running with the Penguins" and I had a blast!
Last year, I participated as a speaker on several panel discussions, read from my short story collection (okay, DRAKE's short story collection) and volunteered in the bookshop a little bit. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and I came home tired... good tired.
This year, I took a different approach... I didn't participate on any panels, and focused on experiencing the Con as a writer instead. I still volunteered at the bookshop... I'll always do that... but this year, it was nice to get out to some of the panels and sit with the "regular" people rather than present. It's a different type of exposure to an event that has so much to offer. I enjoyed having this different perspective. It was fun.
I took part in a panel on pitching your MS to whomever... this was a great way to be reminded that a pitch, whether in an elevator or at a festival, is NOT necessarily your back cover blurb. I knew this already, but of course, who among us doesn't need an occasional refresher course?
I attended a panel that discussed the wonderful writing of Ray Bradbury and how he influenced other writers of that genre. I also attended a session devoted to the mechanics of writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" novel. I loved this session because this is something that's on my list of writing projects. I've toyed with it for several years, but couldn't quite grasp the nuts and bolts of the build. This session was extremely helpful in showing me an effective flow process. Now, that project is again closer to the front burner... not like I don't have enough irons in my creative mind's fire already!
There was a lively discussion about Tropes. This session was particularly helpful for me... not because I'm confused with what tropes are or how to use them, but because I'm planning a major collaboration project that focuses on using tropes as a momentum vehicle for the story's progression. I'm being cagey about this right now because it's a great idea, and I'm still working on the specifics with a team of outstanding writers. But, stay tuned, because more details will be leaking out shortly. Tease? Me? Never!
There was also a very supportive discussion about attaining your MFA on your own terms... DYI. Hearing about the positive aspects of designing your own degree program was a great reminder that the writer doesn't necessarily need a "credited" program to learn more about craft and thrive as an author. There are a lot of accelerated workshops and low residency retreats that can fuel the writing flames just as effectively, without the long-term commitment or cost of a degree program. The information given to us regarding programs and pricing was helpful, as were the tips and tricks of how to choose the best program for your style of writing.
The discussion group I enjoyed the most, I think, was the panel on Subversive Fairy Tales. This was a delicious romp through the world of what is and isn't a fairy tale, and the history behind them. So many people equate these stories with a Disney-esq approach, and it was refreshing to hear that other writers loved the original, darker tales, as I do. The Grimms Brothers didn't have talking animals in their stories, and they frequently didn't end happily ever after - regardless of how strong the orphan was at the end of the story. This conversation stimulated yet another story idea... and this is exactly why I enjoy Cons so much. You never know where your next story idea may come from, but you're certainly to locate many of them at a Con, if you sit, listen, and watch for a while.
Rounding out the event was time spent with fabulous authors, hearing them read, discussing craft, marketing approaches, and books, in general. I was honored to hear many authors read their work, including Michael W. Lucas, David Erik Nelson, Mary Lynne Gibbs, Jean Davis, G.S. Scott, Brigham Vaughn, and Clif Flynt. Cons are wonderful for networking and making new friends. I even got to play with baby Kit throughout the weekend!
The staff at The Westin in Southfield were exemplary, as usual. Kindness and cleanliness permeated the weekend. The staff got involved by collecting ribbons to show their support, and every one of them had a smile and a "hope you're having a great day" to add to the experience. This truly is a wonderful venue to hold a Con, and I can see why the organizers of Penguicon keep coming back.
Authors, Books, and a Baby... a great way to spend a weekend... even considering the wee bout of ConCrud that came home with me. Will I do it again next year? You Betcha!
Yet another wonderful installment of the Martin Preuss mystery series. This may be the shortest of the books, but it doesn’t skimp on story, character, or rich detail. As with Donald’s previous books, this story was engaging, vibrant, and filled with twists and turns. There were several occasions when I thought I knew where the end would take me, and I was wrong. I love being wrong. The twist presented in the final act had my head reeling and made me flip back a few chapters to find out how I had missed the clues. I didn’t mind that, though, the writing here is just that exquisite… re-reading passages was quite delightful.
I'm not normally a fan of this genre. It's not usually they type of book that I gravitate toward, but I enjoy the detective stories that Donald crafts. Each character is clearly interconnected, and in ways we don't often see right away. The plot itself is created in much the same way. Connecting pieces of a larger puzzle revealing secrets and also presenting clues that lay right before us... clues that we don't see because they hide in plain sight. When reading a Martin Pruess mystery, one gets the distinct impression that Donald has diligently done his homework. The police procedures, dialogue, jargon, and interactions between police, private investigators, and even the supporting cast are real, sincere, and cleverly presented.
Again, in this novel, we learn more about Martin through his close relationship with his son, Toby. There is a special bond between the two… but the best part about their relationship for me, is that in each instance that we see them interact, we learn about layers of Martin that we didn’t know were there before, and in each instance, it’s a beautiful surprise. On each occasion that Martin has with Toby, he invariably is led to a moment of clarity with the case he’s working on. It’s almost as if time with Toby is a meditation for Martin, to help him process the details, and perhaps a “normal” home life might not allow for this type of discovery.
I love that each of these books are microcosms unto themselves, and each is also connected to each of the other novels in the series. This means that each book is a wonderful adventure unto itself, as well as a beautifully connected adventure, one to the other.
I’m sincerely looking forward to reading the sixth installment, “Cold Dark Lies”, which will be launched on May 11, at the Color & Ink Studio in Hazel Park, Michigan.
Visit Donald Levin’s website HERE.
Highly Recommended: Five Stars
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