Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I’m not snubbing you, Jonni and DD. I’m just a bad, bad blogger.
I’ve been doing a lot of things since June, not the least of which was traveling down to Emporia, Kansas, for the William Allen White ceremony in October. Wow. What a celebration. I’ll post more about it soon, I promise. (And I’m Jekyll now, so you can believe me.) For now let me just say that my fervent wish for every children’s writer is for each of you to win the WAW and be treated like royalty for a weekend.
My project right now (besides writing) is helping my son’s 4-H club put together a chili supper and auction to raise money for one of our members, a sophomore at my son’s high school, who is having a kidney transplant. I’m putting together a basket of signed books as one of the auction items, so if any writers would like to donate a book for the basket, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a mailing address.
The image above is the flyer I designed for the fundraiser.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Me: Hey, Dad, what do you want for Christmas?
Me: Hey, Dad, what do you want for your birthday?
Me: Hey, Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?
Dad: Well, I could use some socks.
Once in a while he’ll mix things up and ask for underwear, but usually it’s socks, and we’re not talking fun-to-buy, fun-to-give, fun-to-wear socks. We’re not going for anything flashy or trendy, not even a tasteful argyle. When it comes to socks, my dad likes exactly one kind: white cotton crew socks from J.C. Penney.
I’ve never been the most obedient child, so I ditched the whole idea of sock giving when I was about eight. And I have to say that although Shopping for Dad will never be an exact science, my sister and I have managed to raise it to an art form. We usually manage to think of something Dad will really like and really use (which is redundant because, in my dad’s world, if he can’t use it, he isn’t going to like it). But even if he loves the gift (like the plug-in refrigerator he now uses in his van when he travels), he can never open it without grumbling. This is the unvarying scene:
Dad (knotting his eyebrows together and giving the wrapped package a stern and suspicious look): You know you didn’t have to get me anything.
My sister and me (rolling our eyes): We know. Open it.
Dad (while taking an infuriatingly long time to peel back the tape, carefully lift the box from the paper, then fold the paper into a neat square before giving the gift a stern and suspicious look): I would’ve been happy with socks.
Us (rolling our eyes): We know. But what do you think? Isn’t it cool?
Dad (knotting his eyebrows together and giving my sister and me a stern and suspicious look): Oh, yeah, it’s cool all right. How much did it cost?
Us: Hardly anything. It was on clearance. That’s why we can’t take it back.
Dad (rolling his eyes): Right.
This year, Dad’s lady friend, Cissy, gave us the perfect idea for a Father’s Day gift. Dad and Cissy spend their winters in Texas at a retirement community, where Dad golfs two or three times a week. Dad has used the same set of golf clubs for at least twenty years, and I use the term “set” loosely here—he’s cobbled it together from clubs my brother didn’t want any more, supplemented by an iron or wood here and there that he picked up from garage sales.
The guys in the retirement community are constantly telling Dad to buy new clubs, telling Cissy to make him buy new clubs, threatening to ban him from Texas if he doesn’t come back with new clubs, and for good reason—his old clubs are falling apart. The heads have been known to fly farther than his ball when he takes a swing, and he’s using the same covers that were on them when he bought them at the garage sale—some are fuzzy black, some are home-made brown knit with pom-poms on top and holes where the yarn has unraveled. He looks like a homeless person carrying around his wordly possessions in a mid-80s powder blue golf bag.
Cissy wanted to buy Dad new golf clubs, but she thought he’d take it better if we all went in on them together. So Friday, Cissy, my sister, and I went shopping. We got a great set, all graphite handles, with a driver bigger than my head. It came with a rain cover, matching golf club covers, and a snazzy new bag. We were so excited that we couldn’t wait till Father’s Day. We gave them to him that night.
And of course he knotted his eyebrows and grumbled about the money we spent (we told him we got them on sale at a store called Almost Free) and complained that his old clubs still had a lot of use in them.
But then he compared his shiny new eight iron with his old one and said, “Huh. No wonder I can’t ever get any lift with my eight. Look how much more slant this new one has.”
And he compared his new seven iron with the old one (the head of which is lying at the bottom of a water hazard in Texas) and said, “I guess I did need a new seven.”
Then we made him go out in the yard and take a couple swings with his new Volkswagen-sized driver. “Ball goes pretty straight,” he admitted, reluctantly.
By the time we left, he was still grumbling about how much money we’d spent, but his eyebrows had relaxed, and once we caught him actually smiling. I’m hoping that by the time we go over for dinner tonight, he will have forgiven us for not buying socks.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
. . . but speaking of Emporia, I found out that Airball: My Life in Briefs won this year’s William Allen White Award (which is named after famed Emporia newspaper editor William Allen White and is headquartered at Emporia State University). Hooray!
I’ll certainly post more about the award soon, too. This has been a crazy-busy week. Tomorrow I’m heading down to Andale Elementary (outside Wichita) to do a school visit for their William Allen White celebration.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
When I do presentations, I tell kids they can do whatever they set their minds to do. I’m usually referring to their pursuit of talents and dreams such as writing, dance, sports, music, acting, or other difficult and unconventional careers. But it applies to public speaking, too. Who among us is not terrified of speaking in front of an audience? Everyone. It’s universal. When I began writing, I never knew that a writer’s career would entail so much public speaking—school visits, conferences, workshops, book fairs, awards banquets, panel discussions. At first, I was terrified. And I still am to a certain extent. I don’t think the fear of public speaking ever completely goes away. But the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. And now I find speaking in public (dare I say it?). . . fun. Really.
So for kids out there whose knees knock together when they have to stand in front of their classmates and give an oral book report, or for writers whose knees knock together when they have to stand in front of other writers to speak at a conference, or for anyone whose knees knock together at the very thought of standing in front of an audience for any reason, I say: Do it anyway. It gets easier with practice, you’re probably a better speaker than you think you are, and if you do it enough, you might find you like it!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Until now. Last night, in San Antonio, Texas, my beloved Jayhawks did it again. In an incredible, heart-stopping nail-biter, they came from behind to win 75–68 in overtime against a fabulous Memphis team.
So indulge me just a little, because at the risk of offending everyone in Memphis, North Carolina, and Missouri, I have to say:
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Go, KU!
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Educator Savings Week April 2nd-8th
Educators save 25% on purchases!
Friday April 4
Food, fun and prizes!
Dr. John Laurie, author of Managing the Game
Saturday April 5
Mary Anne Demeritt, author of The Twilight Ride of the Pink Fairy
Children’s Author Panel Event
Local authors on hand to discuss their books or answer questions about getting published!
• Leigh Legere: Do Antelope Eat Cantaloupe
• Mary Anne Demeritt: The Twilight Ride of the Pink Fairy
• Jenny Whitehead: Holiday Stew and Lunch Box Mail
• Sandra Jacob: Smiling Faces
• Mary Martin: Miss Lilly and the Hollyhock Garden
• Jancy Morgan and Tom Dunn: If This Old Tree Could Talk To Me
• Lisa Harkrader: Airball: My Life in Briefs
Join us for crafts, food, games, contests and lots of fun!
Kansas City Writers Meetup Group
Lisa Harkrader: “Tips and Tricks for Writing Effective Dialogue.”
Singer-songwriter Bayley Kate will perform folk/indie rock.
Sunday April 6
Take some time out for yourself and enjoy:
• The Yoga Studio of Johnson County
• Mary Kay
• 24hr Fitness
• Massage demonstrations
• Coffee and Tea Tasting
Wow! If you live in the area, drop by. This is some weekend they have planned.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
In the morning, I gave a presentation called “Promotion 101.” Which is ironic, considering that I don’t have a single sales gene in my entire body. When Airball: My Life in Briefs first came out, if you’d told me I’d soon be giving other writers tips on promotion, I would have first laughed and then passed out in terror at the mere thought of doing promotion.
I’ll never be an in-your-face promoter, but I have picked up a few things. My guiding principles for marketing are:
- Don’t do things you hate. Try new things that may seem scary at first (like school visits—a terrific way to connect with readers, librarians, and teachers), but if you absolutely hate some kind of event or promotional effort, don’t do it. Life’s too short.
- Don’t spend a fortune. Plenty of free or low-cost opportunities (like sending out press releases or speaking at regional library conferences) exist.
- Focus on your own piece of the world. You can’t cover the whole country anyway, and the people who live in your region are probably going to be the ones who are most excited about your book.
So I immediately came home and updated my site. Now instead of saying “About the Author,” the tabs on my web pages say “About L.D. Harkrader.” And the page they link to is LDHarkrader, rather than Author.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
A couple years ago she started the KC Writers Meetup, a group for Kansas City area writers, and it’s not only still going strong, it’s getting bigger and better all the time. The group holds a monthly meeting at the espresso bar at a local Borders, and each month they invite a speaker. For their April 5 meeting, Suzanne has invited me to conduct a workshop on writing dialogue.
Which in itself is pretty cool. But it just gets even cooler because when she contacted Borders, they invited me to be on a children’s writer panel in celebration of Educator Appreciation Week, scheduled that same day.
Here are the details:
Children’s Writer Panel
KC Writers Meetup Workshop
Tips & Tricks for Writing Effective Dialogue
April 5, 2008
119th & Metcalf
Overland Park, Kansas
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Part of it—a huge part, I’m sure—is the weather. This is the third day in a row of beautiful sunshine and warm weather. It’s been windy as heck, but that’s okay. This is Kansas, after all, so we’re used to wind, and (in one of those instances where nature is wiser than we mere mortals) it turns out that wind has a real plus side: It’s drying up all that nasty mud we’ve been fighting out here in rural America as weeks of snow and ice have finally melted and turned our driveways and gravel roads into pudding.
Another huge part of my happiness is yesterday’s panel and booksigning at the Topeka Barnes & Noble. I’m always sure nobody will show up, but we had a nice little group who were almost all writers, and I think our discussion was well-received. And hanging out in a bookstore with writers, talking about writing and drinking frou-frou coffee drinks laced with cinnamon and whipped cream, is always a fun time. My thirteen year old wanted to come with me, and I think later, as extreme boredom nearly sent him into a coma, he regretted it, but I always enjoy his company and was glad for his help schlepping my stuff to and from the car.
Another big part of the happiness is that I think my writing is going well. In all the angst we writers have about getting published and sweating the reviews and hoping our books sell well enough that we can publish the next one, the rock-bottom truth is, it’s all about the writing. When I’m working, creating, giving life to my characters and their stories, I’m happy, and I have a real sense that everything else will follow (eventually).
It’s supposed to snow and sleet tonight, and I think my daughter is coming down with the nasty flu bug my son and I had a couple weeks ago, so I’m going to enjoy my happiness while I can.
Friday, February 29, 2008
P.S. Happy Leap Day. I keep thinking I need to commemorate this day, which only rolls around every four years, by leaping into something new and exciting and slightly scary, something I’ve been wanting to do but have been too busy or too afraid. . . but I can’t think what that something would be. So maybe I’ll just leap into some drawings for my middle-grade WIP (comic book panels that my superhero-wannabe main character is creating as his own story goes along) and do so without fear or self-doubt.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Panel Discussion and Booksigning
Topeka Barnes & Noble
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Kansas SCBWI Workshop
KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Young Writers Conference
Emporia High School
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave
October 31–November 2, 2008
I’ll be adding some school visits and other events in the very near future.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Esther has arranged a panel discussion and booksigning at the Topeka Barnes & Noble, and she has invited me and Mark Bouton to join her on the panel. Mark is a terrific mystery writer and retired FBI agent whom I’ve met at several GMMCs (Great Manhattan Mystery Conclaves). He was one of the agents who investigated the Oklahoma City bombing and tracked down and arrested Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
I am so looking forward to the panel. The Topeka Barnes & Noble has been very good to me and to Airball. Here are the particulars:
Demystifying the Mystery of Writing Mysteries
Panel Discussion and Booksigning with Esther Luttrell, Mark Bouton, and Lisa Harkrader
2 to 4 p.m.
March 1, 2008
Barnes & Noble
6130 SW 17th Street
(17th and Wanamaker)
Topeka, KS 66615
I’m so impressed with everything Esther has done to arrange this event, and tickled to death that she invited me to join her.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Yesterday I did a school visit at Jeff West (Jefferson County West Unified School District, for those of you who don’t live in northeast Kansas :-) ), and I had a great time. I talked to the 4th and 5th graders at the Intermediate School in Ozawkie and the 6th and 7th graders at the Middle School in Meriden, and they were all just terrific. Their teachers and librarians prepared them well, reading Airball out loud in class, talking up the visit, making Airball bulletin boards, and all those wonderful things teachers and librarians do every day that get taken for granted.
I’ve actually done several school visits lately. Last month I was in Linwood, talking to the 7th and 8th grades at Basehor-Linwood Middle School. Before Christmas I talked to kids in Overbrook and Stanton. And I always have a great time.
Which, knowing my personality the way I do and for as many years as I have, surprises me. People laugh when I tell them this, but I’m a very shy person. And the first few times I did school visits, I was so panic-stricken (I agreed to do WHAT? In front of HOW MANY KIDS? Did I have a head injury? What was I THINKING?) before the visits that I honestly and truly thought I would pass out in the car on the way. And then I sort of hoped I would because running my car into the ditch seemed infinitely preferable to speaking to an auditorium full of middle graders.
But, to my surprise, I find that I
I’m still a shy person. But I find that as a writer, I need to have two personalities: Lisa the Hermit and Lisa Who is Allowed Out in Public. It’s sometimes hard to shift between the two. The Hermit likes being hunkered down at the computer with fictional characters, not having to fix her hair or talk to anyone real. But once I let my Public personality out, she ends up on such an adrenaline high after school visits that she really hates to be put back into the cave.
Other stuff my Public personality has been doing includes a really fun day before Christmas, when I spent the morning at the Barnes and Noble in Topeka at the Auburn-Washburn Book Fair talking to kids and teachers and parents, listening to the elementary school early morning choirs, and signing books with Beverley Olson Buller, author of From Emporia: The Story of William Allen White, a terrific biography that includes incredible photos, many from the morgue of the Kansas City Star and not widely published before now.
I wished I could have stayed there all day, but I left just after noon to motor over to The Book Barn (which, as I’ve said before, is a wonderful, wonderful independent bookstore in historic downtown Leavenworth). Owners Bob and Barb Spear were hosting their annual holiday open house, and they invited me to be their guest, along with Ally Carter, author of the wildly popular Gallagher Girls books, a YA series about a spy boarding school for girls. I had a great time there, too, talking to readers, answering questions, signing books.
I’m very lucky my Public personality gets invited to so many events. And I’m lucky that the Hermit allows her to go.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Monday, January 28th
Kansas City Library
4801 Main Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64112
Octavian Nothing, set during the Revolutionary War, won the 2006 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
Reading Reptile, cosponsor of the event, will be selling Mr. Anderson’s books. The author will sign books purchased during the event.
This is event is free, but you must reserve a seat at kclibrary.org/rsvp/2008/mtanderson.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Talk and Book Signing
Tuesday, January 22
Lawrence Arts Center
940 New Hampshire
Lawrence native Sara Paretsky, creator of fictional Chicago private eye V. I. Warshawski, will talk about her writing career in this program, “Why I Write the Books I Do,” co-sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities, the Lawrence Public Library and The Raven Bookstore. The first 100 attendees will receive a free copy of Paretsky’s new book, Bleeding Kansas, a stand-alone mystery set in Douglas County. Paretsky will sign books following the talk. The event will be held at the Lawrence Arts Center, and is free and open to the public.
- I was busy doing writer events. (Which coud be a really good excuse, except that one of the reasons my blog exists in the first place is so that I can talk about my writer events.)
- We had an ice storm and our power was out for almost a week. (This one is actually a good excuse, for anyone, really, but especially for me. Sadly, my life comes to a standstill without electricity. I’m a girl who likes her modern conveniences.)
- Christmas blindsided me again. (I always swear it won’t happen this year, but it always does.)
- After we slogged our way through the power outage and the holidays, I somehow got on a roll with my writing, and it’s going so well that I hate to stop and do anything else. (Believe it or not, this is true.)
Anyway, I’m getting my act together. I’ll post about my writer events from the past two months and also about events coming up in the near future. I can’t stand the guilt that comes from ignoring my blog.