It’s been a busy and fun time of late.
On March 1, the University of Nebraska Press released The Horse Lover: A Cowboy’s Quest to Save the Wild Mustangs. This is a memoir that Alan Day and I co-authored about his experience starting the first government-sponsored wild horse sanctuary. Alan was born a cowboy and started riding horses even before he could walk. I was born a suburban girl and started riding bicycles as soon as my legs could pedal. I never owned a horse and come to think of it, I never asked Alan if he owned a bicycle. But despite our disparate backgrounds, we were able to write a book. And like all authors, we’re eager to share it with you.
Thus, this week we launched a virtual book tour. A big thank you to Linda Leon of Book Marketing Professionals and Eunice Nisbett of Savvy Bestsellers for arranging this tour. These ladies rock. If you’re an author and want to take your book on a journey through the ethers, give them a shout.
If you’ve been following the tour, you know about Alan’s story. If not, read a bit about it here. (And yes, Kevin Costner really did visit the ranch to see about filming Dances with Wolves on it.) Yesterday, Alan shared a story about Chico, his first horse (ironically a wild mustang). And the day before, he talked to a German audience about training the 1500 wild mustangs he cared for on his South Dakota ranch.
We decided to change thing up for today’s appearance. Rather than sharing a story, we’re offering you a chance to win two books: an autographed hardcover of The Horse Lover and a copy of Lazy B, a memoir that Alan and his big sister Sandra Day O’Connor co-authored about growing up on their family’s southwestern cattle ranch. (It was a mere 200,000-acres and straddled Arizona and New Mexico.)
To enter, follow the directions below. The drawing will take place at the end of the tour on May 2nd. In the meantime, we invite you to follow the rest of the tour. You can check back here daily to see where Alan will be appearing or sign up for our weekly newsletter.
Happy riding, pedaling, writing – or whatever it is you do best!
Can’t you just see it?
An award emblem on the cover of your book.
While coveted awards like the National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, Hugo Award, Edgar, Caldecott, and Newbury are a challenge to come by, other awards may be attainable. You just have to know where to find them and take the time to apply.
Check out what’s happening in your state.
Many states sponsor awards for authors. Here in Arizona, for example, at least three organizations hold writing contests for fiction, non-fiction and poetry, all of which offer monetary awards and all of which are open to authors regardless of location.
- The Arizona Authors Association hosts the annual Arizona Literary Contest. This year the submission deadline was July 31.
- The Society of Southwestern Authors hosts a contest for short fiction, essay/memoir, and poetry. The submission deadline is usually the end of August.
- The Tucson Festival of Books started a Literary Awards in 2012 for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. This year, you have until October 31 to submit your work.
For an extensive listing of awards, visit the Wikipedia page American Literary Awards. It’s one of the most comprehensive listings that I’ve been able to find.
If you’ve found others, let me know!
Today’s guest blog is by Allen R. Kates, MFAW, an experienced book editor, coach and ghostwriter. One of Allen’s specialties is memoir writing. If you’ve ever tried writing your memoir, you know it can be tricky choosing the details to include and the ones to exclude. Here, Allen shares some sound advice on how to write an uncluttered, yet strong intriguing story.
Memoirs run on details, but too much information can ruin the story for the reader.
When I read a client’s book manuscript, the first thing I notice is whether there is too much information in a sentence. Do I feel overwhelmed by facts?
Writing a book is not like writing a newspaper or magazine article. In journalism, we apply the 5 Ws: who, why, when, where, what and how. Often reporters try to sneak all of the 5 Ws into the first paragraph. But memoir writing is not journalism. It’s creative writing, and in creative writing we do not want to give our reader too much information.
Instead, we want to withhold it.
Bombarding readers with too much information can bore, confuse, and really annoy them. A sentence loses focus when too many ideas are presented. Take this sentence, for example:
“Crippled all his life, the 10-year-old disabled boy named Jacob slipped out of his wheelchair, tiptoed out the front door of the red-brick house without his mother and father noticing and ran to the big box grocery store six blocks away, just like a regular boy might do, to buy a bottle of soda and a comic book, along with Junior Mints, a Snickers bar and a package of Red Vines, using money his grandpa gave him.”
The above sentence is overloaded with ideas. If we move some of the information into other sentences, the first sentence becomes more compelling to read:
“The 10-year-old boy slipped from his wheelchair and tiptoed out the front door without his parents noticing. He ran to the grocery store six blocks away and bought a comic book. With money left over, he bought candy and a soda, just like a regular boy might do.”
By moving some of the ideas to other sentences and saving others for further development later, I have created more questions than answers, as well as mystery and suspense. Consequently, I’ve aroused the reader’s curiosity. The most important ideas (a boy confined to a wheelchair has tiptoed and run, unbeknownst to his parents), are not buried in a mess of words, but are now prominent.
In the first sentence, it’s enough to say that he “slipped from his wheelchair” without overstating that the boy has been crippled all his life and disabled. You can save those ideas for later where they can be developed and have more impact.
Most interesting, the first sentence’s subtext suggests an intriguing question. Do the parents know that he can walk (tiptoe) and run?
I have established that the parents do not know he has snuck out, but have also vaguely implied that they may not know he can walk and run. The vagueness keeps the reader in suspense, again causing more questions than answers. Do they know or do they not know? If they don’t, then the deception can lead to a great story full of mystery, suspense, contrast and conflict.
By removing description like “crippled all his life,” “mother and father,” “red-brick house,” “big-box store,” “Junior Mints,” “Snickers bar,” “Red Vines,” and “money his grandpa gave him,” I’ve slimmed down the sentence and made it more powerful, more focused, and easier to read. I don’t even include the boy’s name, as the reader doesn’t need to know it yet.
When writing sentences and paragraphs, I ask myself what the reader needs to know at this point in the story. What information can I move to another sentence, what can I delay until the next paragraph or much later? What information can I withhold forever and never tell the reader?
In other words, by putting your sentences on a diet, you can encourage readers to turn the page and enjoy the read.
I’ve tried something new. At least new for me.
It’s a free easy-to-use program that sets up online raffles. Authors use it to give away books, companies use it to give away products and services. Giveaways are happening all over the Internet. It’s a fun option to add to your book publicity campaign.
It reminds me of the days when you could mail in sweepstake entries to companies of all sorts to win freebies. Some people made a hobby out of it. The good news is you can still make a hobby of it, but now all you have to do is go online, google “giveaways” and bam, within twenty minutes you can be entered in all sorts of drawings. Bob Vila is giving away a Saber Grill. Glamour magazine is giving away a gift card for a Dream Watters Wedding Dress. Coca-Cola Cinemark is giving away trips for four to SeaWorld in Orlando, San Antonio, or San Diego. If want to try your luck at winning free books, just go to Goodreads and search for giveaways. You’ll find gobs of opportunities.
If you’re a newbie and want to see how it works or if you’re already in the know and want to enter another raffle, check out the rafflecopter on http://thehorselover.com/blog/ . It’s for an autographed copy of the NY Times bestseller Lazy B by Sandra Day O’Connor and H. Alan Day. This is my foray into book giveaways. It ends in less than fifteen hours, so you’ll have to be quick about it. Might I add, the odds are far more in your favor than the Bob Vila and Coca-Cola Cinemark raffles. As you will see, there is a small entry requirement. You must either tweet the raffle, “Like” The Horse Lover on Facebook, post your favorite western movie, friend H. Alan Day on Goodreads or follow him on Twitter. Rafflecopter allowed me to choose the entry requirements.
Let me know if you decide to use Rafflecopter to market your book. I’m happy to post tweets and enter the contest. Hey, who doesn’t like to win a freebie?
May the raffle gods be with you.
The lazy hazy days of summer may be here, but they sure seem to be passing swiftly. LWS Literary Services has been having an exciting summer with the launch of hot new books and projects. (more…)
Today’s guest post comes from Grael Norton of Wheatmark, Inc. , a print-on-demand company located in Tucson, AZ.
We have all read the stories of famous authors who made it big after numerous failures, rejections, and setbacks. We know that persistence worked for them because we see the end result. Unfortunately, it is much harder for the beginning author who has not yet had success to believe in it for himself or herself. (more…)
We’ve just about arrived at the weekend and a long one at that. You can leave your office behind and put your writing in front of you. Here’s a warm-up exercise to get you on your writing way. Stretch those creative ligaments. Flex those fingers. An easy, gentle start will get the words flowing and help you find ballast on the blank page. (more…)
Today’s guest post comes from writer Kate Traci, who like most writers and editors, grapples with carving out the time to write in a busy schedule.
To writers, writing is like sleep: necessary and needed for us to live. Sometimes it’s like a fine wine: it fills out the day in a tasteful, fulfilling way.
When I don’t write, the feeling comes. I don’t recognize it at first. It creeps in on stealthy feet adding to the quiet unease that something is amiss and going drastically wrong. (more…)
The paths leading to the writing life vary tremendously. Elisabeth Davies, MC never expected to journey into the writing life, but journey she did. Now she’s a published author and on the road spreading the messages in her new book. Today, she shares her journey with us.
Early in 2008, I was receiving messages through prayer and meditation that I was supposed to be a writer. I had no experience as a writer and knew nothing about the writing or publishing industry, so I ignored the messages by justifying that I had a successful career. (more…)
Barbara McNichol is one of those editors to contact when you’re struggling with punctuation and grammar. In her guest blog below, she gives some pointers on that all-important, oft-misused swish – the comma. For those of you in the Tucson area, Barbara will be conducting the How to Strengthen EVERYTHING You Write “wordshop” on Friday, January 25 from 8 am-11:45 am. If you want to refine your writing skills, you’ll want to sign up for this event.
It’s Okay to Take Artistic License with Commas but Watch Out!
by Barbara McNichol
When I’m editing manuscripts, I sometimes wonder how much the authors struggle with their use of commas and dashes and other punctuation—or whether they question it at all! (more…)