So far, 2009 is a great year. The big thing accomplished this week was to finalize all the stops on my Longhorns and Outlaws Virtual Tour for March!
We have lots of snow for good snowmobiling, so weekends are full. I’m making good progress on my next historical novel, Kidnapped By Outlaws, the sequel to Longhorns and Outlaws, so my planning is paying off.
Here are the Virtual Tour for Longhorns and Outlaws stops:
Whew! The crazy eight weeks of picking up Longhorns and Outlaws, doing the book tours, school visits, and author readings has come to an end. I can breathe again…
I’ll admit, however, that it does feel a little anti-climactic.
So, what next? Well, on to more development for the outlaws Web site, of course, as there’s lots of material to add for teachers and young readers. It lives at: http://www.outlawbooks4kids.com/
But the big “next” is returning to that sequel for Longhorns and Outlaws — Kidnapped by Outlaws. Putting my faith in the wisdom of the other dozen wonderful members of my writing group, the Children’s Writers’ Round Robin, I workshopped the first ten pages of the new book a few weeks ago.
And the golden nugget I found in the critique session was that just because you’re writing a sequel, or a series, doesn’t mean you have to summarize everything that’s just happened to your character. Really, your character had a past when you introduced him in the first book! So, you don’t have to do anything different than work in whatever backstory is required, the same as you did the first time.
I felt like somebody’d just turned on a lightbulb. Of course. Those ten pages I’d worked so hard to summarize the whole Longhorns and Outlaws novel were totally boring and not required. Just what the reader needs to know to jump into this adventure — being kidnapped by outlaws — that’s all those ten pages need to contain.
Well, now, I’m ready to get back to work on that sequel, and once again, give thanks for my writing group. They’re just so darned smart and insightful…
My day in Camrose had been somewhat topsy-turvy using Google maps — left or right when I reached the main thoroughfare? Left first. That seemed wrong. Right second. That seemed more wrong. Well, for try number three I took the truck route around the city and gave up on ever finding Highway #26, which had presumably been just 2.8 km one direction — or the other — down the road.
Then, voila, miles and miles later, I reached the highway and began the final trek from Camrose to Wainwright. It seemed to take a LOT longer than the hour and 51 minutes Google maps had promised, and I was soon looking for a gas station! One appeared soon enough, and I had a great visit with the elderly owner who came out to show me how to get the pump started, and enjoyed some fabulous fall sunshine.
Lynn Grocock, head Librarian, met me and showed me around the lovely facility. As might be expected, I set up on the lower level in the beautiful children’s department.
(photo from the Wainwright Public Library collection)
I was pleased to have a dozen people appear right on the dot of 7 p.m., even one young future writer who was interested in Longhorns and Outlaws!
All of my presentations on the tour had been geared to talking about how authentic your material is when you write from experience — and how a writer does a lot more than sit at a computer and type. So, while I didn’t have the powerpoint to keep me on track, I took the same approach with the launch.
Question period gave me an opportunity to share my writer’s story with everyone, and we talked about how to get published and even where to get published. My advice is simple:
Write what you know!
Read, read, and read in the area you want to publish.
Study publishers’ lines carefully, so you really know where your work might make a good fit.
Write, write, and keep on writing!
Of course I also shared my own experiences with the power of the Internet to help get established. I share lots of tips on that in my course, Introduction to Internet Writing Markets that I teach online.
And so, with the friendly welcoming launch from Lynn Grocock and local people, my Alberta book tour came to a close. Would I do it again? You bet!
Day 4, Thursday afternoon, September 25, 2008, last school stop on the Longhorns and Outlaws Alberta Book Tour.
There’s no better way to navigate the streets of an unknown city than by staying close behind a local! I followed Kathie Green through the busy noon hour traffic of Camrose to Chester Ronning School.
Chester Ronning School, I discovered, has amazing architecture.
Following Kathie through the halls to the music room, where I was scheduled to present to the hundred students who’d be attending from grades 3 to 6, I kept stopping to stare at the walls and murals.
The music room was a perfect venue — my voice carried nicely and all of the students could easily see the slides while seated comfortably during my Powerpoint show.
As it turned out, Kathie and I had met years earlier, when she’d attended a library workshop I presented, which she told students when she introduced me. I received a warm welcome, and was soon flying through my tale of Longhorns and Outlaws, and Lucas Vogel’s adventures.
My young listeners were ready with questions at the end, so much so that a dozen hands waved in the air at once! Do you write your books on a computer or with a pen? How do you figure out what to put in that’s real history and what to make up? and many more excellent questions about how I’d written the book.
The questions continued without a stop for fifteen minutes until the buzzer called everyone to change classes. I felt sad as I thanked my last fabulous audience — the schools part of my Alberta Longhorns and Outlaws tour was over.
Of course, I still had to visit Kathie’s awesome library, and say hi to kids as they passed me again in the hallways. I’d take home lots of memories from Chester Ronning!
It had only taken me an hour to get from Ponoka to Camrose the afternoon before, so I settled into the
Thursday morning started easily enough, with what Google maps declared was a seven minute drive to Charlie Killam School — even though I could see left and right turns were somewhat mixed up! A left turn onto the highway from the motel would have taken me back to Ponoka, not into Camrose.
Hope Heck showed me to the enormous school library with its dozens of computers and balcony area for the fiction collection. We were set up in no time at all with the Powerpoint show and middle years kids streaming in for the first presentation.
My morning, however, wasn’t quite as organized as that of the staff and students at Charlie Killam School! While it should have been simple to follow period changes, my perception of time was out-of-kilter. I finished the presentation for the first group fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, so they got to view slides of some of my travel writing adventures around the world and see things like an Eastern toilet and headhunters dancing in Borneo. Their enthusiasm was wonderful!
The second group I owe a debt a gratitude, for their keen interest and patience staying with me well into their noon hour! Luckily for the grade 7 class, who’d spent their Language Arts period with me, Hope Heck returned to take me off for lunch. The meal was amazing and put me on track for the afternoon. We went to the Lefse House where I had the Swedish meatballs and gravy, mashed potatoes, hardanger lefse and fruit soup (amazing — had a flavour similar to mincemeat). It even came with dessert, and I chose cream filled Krum Kake. Yum!
Then, I was off with Kathie Green (who’d chosen our lunch stop) from Chester Ronning School for the last school visit on the Longhorns and Outlaws Alberta tour.