Thursday, March 27, 2008

Appreciating Educators

As I said before, on Saturday, April 5, 2008, I’ll be part of a children’s book panel (that also includes my friend Jenny Whitehead, whom I haven’s seen in way too long) at the Borders on 119th and Metcalf in Overland Park, Kansas. Afterward, I’ll present a writing workshop in the cafĂ©. The store is going all out to celebrate educators. Jenny at Borders sent me this flyer:

Educator Savings Week April 2nd-8th
Educators save 25% on purchases!

Friday April 4
Special Reception
4:00—8:00 PM
Food, fun and prizes!

Book Signing
4:00—6:00 PM
Dr. John Laurie, author of Managing the Game

Saturday April 5
10:00—11:00 AM
Mary Anne Demeritt, author of The Twilight Ride of the Pink Fairy

Children’s Author Panel Event
12:00—2:00 PM
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
2:00 PM
Lisa Harkrader: “Tips and Tricks for Writing Effective Dialogue.”

Acoustic Guitar
4:00—6:00 PM
Singer-songwriter Bayley Kate will perform folk/indie rock.

Sunday April 6
Educator Escape!
2:00—4:00 PM
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

Kansas SCBWI Workshop

I had a wonderful day yesterday at the Kansas SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) workshop, “Taking Care of Business: Marketing and Promoting.”

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:
  1. 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.
  2. Don’t spend a fortune. Plenty of free or low-cost opportunities (like sending out press releases or speaking at regional library conferences) exist.
  3. 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.
In the afternoon I attended Sue Uhlig Ford and Kate Barsotti’s presentation, “Websites and Blogs 101.” They gave great tips on what your goals should be for a blog and/or website and how to set them up. One of the best tips I picked up is probably one of the simplest (and also was one of those moments where I thumped myself upside the head and said, “Duh”): Make sure the URL of the About Me or About the Author page on your site is titled with your name. Search engines looking for your name will not connect About Me with you.

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

Young Writers’ Conference

On April 19, 2008, I’ll be one of the speakers at the 2008 Young Writers’ Conference in Emporia. Here’s a link to the great article the Emporia Gazette ran about the conference.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Full Day at Borders

My friend Suzanne Lieurance is simply tireless. She does so many things in a day—writes, coaches writers, interviews writers for her daily blog talk radio show Book Bites for Kids, reviews books, runs probably 37 different writing-related websites (37 may be an exaggeration, but not by much), owns and operates a gourmet baking mix company—that I am convinced she has finally mastered cloning technology and now has ten or twelve Suzannes to do her bidding.

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
Noon–2 p.m.

KC Writers Meetup Workshop
Tips & Tricks for Writing Effective Dialogue
2–3 p.m.

April 5, 2008
Borders Books
119th & Metcalf
Overland Park, Kansas

Sunday, March 02, 2008

What a Glorious Day

Some days I wake up inexplicably. . . happy. Today is one of those days.

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.