Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kansas Book Festival

Next week I’ll be attending the Kansas Book Festival in Wichita. This is the second year for the festival. I went last year, and WOW, it was a wonderful two days of books, music, authors, and storytellers. It was successful beyond even the organizers’ dreams, and the second year promises to be even bigger.

I’ll be speaking on a panel called “LOL: Funny Fiction” with fellow middle-grade writers J.B. Cheaney and Justin Matott. I’ve participated in panels with J.B. Cheaney a couple of times before, and she’s a wonderful writer and speaker. I’m looking forward to meeting Justin.

Here are the details:

LOL: Funny Fiction
9:45 to 10:45 a.m.
October 5
Tween Time Tent
Koch Arena (at Wichita State University)
21st & Hillside
Wichita, Kansas

After the panel I’ll sign books from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the Town Crier Bookstore booth. And after that I’m going to wander around the festival enjoying all the other author panels and talks. I’m bringing my son, who is 13 and is always fun to hang out with (unless he’s doing math homework, in which case he’s no fun at all).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Spaghetti Method

First drafts are hard. I can very happily revise all day long. But facing that blank page, trying to create something out of nothing, can be sheer agony. Once in awhile I’ll get into a groove and those first draft words will simply flow, but that’s a gift so rare, I don’t even remember the last time it happened.

The reason first drafts are so difficult is that I subconsciously worry that the words I put on that blank page won’t be the right ones, that I’ll choose wrong before I even start. I sit paralyzed, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, trying to work out in my mind which words, in which order, I should use to tell my story—and not being able to commit to any of them. Finally I give up in frustration and go in search of a tasty snack (because, as my friend Suzanne says, I may get writer’s block, but I never get eater’s block).

In order to get anything written, I’ve had to develop the Spaghetti Method. When facing that blank page, I start throwing words at it to see if any of them stick. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing this, that whatever I throw on there doesn’t have to stay, that I can always scrape it off later. But the Spaghetti Method helps circumvent the agony of the first draft and gets me more quickly to the part I enjoy: revision.

First drafts still aren’t (usually) easy. And I’m still waiting for the next blissful moment of first-draft flow. But in the meantime, I’m not facing a blank page unarmed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Partners in Crime

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and of the Kansas City chapter, Partners in Crime. The other night at our monthly meeting, I volunteered to put up a website for the chapter. The president said, “Hey, great! We’ve been needing a web maven.” I’m hardly a maven—of anything, much less the Internet—but I figured even I could set up the information on a blog. Blogs are free, which, coincidentally, is exactly how much our chapter can afford.

I think it turned out pretty well: PartnersInCrimeKC. If you live in the Kansas City area and are interested in mysteries, you can find information there on our activities and members and can download past issues of our newsletter. And then you could join us at our meetings. We get together on the second Wednesday of each month, and we always have great speakers.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Washburn-Auburn Book Fair Update

The Washburn-Auburn schools have invited me to participate in their book fair this year, and I’ve just confirmed some of the details:

Auburn-Washburn Book Fair
December 1, 2007
Barnes and Noble
6130 SW 17th Street
Topeka, Kansas

The book fair runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. I’ll be there starting at 10 a.m. and will stay as long as they need (or want!) me. I’m excited. I love book fairs. And book fairs in December are especially wonderful because they’re a great opportunity to do a little holiday shopping.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I saw the most wonderful movie this afternoon—“Once,” an Irish film about a Dublin musician and a Czech girl who meet and change each others’ lives. It’s a sweet, lovely story that doesn’t feel at all staged. It’s more like we’re eavesdropping on these people’s lives. It’s not a movie for children. Not that there’s anything objectionable about it, save for a bit of language here and there. I just don’t think there’s enough action to keep kids involved.

But, oh, adults, treat yourselves to this. The music is incredible. I left the theatre and headed straight for the music store to buy the soundtrack. The songs are infectious and haunting, and now that I’m home and have been doing a bit of online research, I see why. Glen Hansard, who plays the Dublin musician, is apparently a huge star in Ireland, the lead singer and guitarist of the Irish band The Frames. I’m glad I finally know this. I’ve really been missing out on something terrific.