I wanted to share recent good news about two non-fiction stories I wrote. On December 1st, Barbara Connelli and Flagrans Press published “Irish Storytellers,” in Chique Anthology 2012: The Beauty and Inspiration of Travel. “Irish Storytellers” chronicles an adventurous trip my husband and I took in Ireland, including horses, and the joy of Ireland’s people. And on November 29th, I found out my story submission, “Christmas Heroes,” will appear in Sheryl Roush’s The Heart of Christmas eBook. “Christmas Heroes” honors my father and my last Christmas memories with him.
An equestrian enthusiast and fan of this blog, Jenn Bohman, sent me this graphic I’m about to share with you. Jenn thought you, my readers, particularly the equestrians in the crowd, might be interested. I hope you are, and if you normally visit my blog to read about writing, well, take a break from writing and catch some Olympic spirit in the final days.
I, like many, have been caught up in serious Olympic fever over these past few weeks. I get so emotional watching athletes in all sports compete like they never have before to proudly represent their countries. So many highlights, and such class, demonstrated over and over again by both rookie and seasoned athletes. I get very emotional, cry a lot, and stay up way past my bedtime. But have you ever wondered what the odds for an athlete to actually reach the Olympic Games? [Read more...]
I recently conducted a writing workshop that led me back to basics. You see, my group ranged in ages four to fourteen, and I had thirty minutes to teach them how to write a story. At the same time, I happened to be reading Stephen King’s
On Writing, the best advice I’ve seen on the craft. When I looked back, my simple “lesson plan” contained striking similarities to the master storyteller’s guidance, so I thought I’d share what I learned. [Read more...]
I last posted about “Keeping It Real” in writing and mentioned how some people responded to my book, Believing In Horses, turning fiction into reality. Last week, some local children made a significant donation to local rescues in their “Kids Can Do BIG Things, Too!” campaign. Please welcome my guest blogger, Kristy Alvarez, founder of Desire Ministries and the leader of this campaign, who tells the story in her words.
As many of you know, or may not know, through Desire Ministries, we have been running an after-school Horse Club program since 2006. We meet with the students of Cornerstone Christian Academy on a weekly basis so that the students who participate can learn the basics of horseback riding and horsemanship at Loftmar Stables in Bowie, Md.
Not long ago, I received an e-mail that went something like this:
David E. Hilton’s debut novel KINGS OF COLORADO—now available in paperback (Simon & Schuster; January 3, 2012; $14.00)—is a powerful coming-of-age story set on a juvenile delinquent ranch in the Rockies….I would love to send you a copy of KINGS OF COLORADO to review, giveaway, or feature on Believing in Horses….”
Since Simon & Schuster cared about my thoughts, I thought I would share them here as well.
In Kings of Colorado (Simon and Schuster, 2011) by David E. Hilton, Will Sheppard stabs, but does not kill, his father, and pays the price for the rest of his life. Sent to the Swope Ranch Boys’ Reformatory in Colorado across the country from his Chicago home, thirteen-year-old Will learns lessons one would hope a child protecting his mother from his abusive father would never have to learn. Two years at the brutal boys’ ranch toughens Will, but does not leave him devoid of emotions. His saving graces include friendships, a special horse he trains, and a kind nurse. Will endures one violent and tragic hardship after another, leaving the reader wondering if he can possibly survive.
One of my mentors used to tell young Navy recruits the following: “You may think you are new and don’t know much, but as soon as you’ve spent a day in the Navy, you know more than those who have just arrived. You are a mentor, and it’s up to you to share your knowledge with those coming in behind you.”
I decided to apply this to my new writing career. I still consider myself that “young recruit” who doesn’t know much, so am surprised when people ask me advice. But then again, I look at how much I’ve learned in the past few years through reading, courses, conferences, associations, and most importantly, doing. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts on a topic on which I don’t see too much written – book awards.
I’ve seen and heard opinions on book awards varying from “it’s the best thing to gain notice for your book,” to “it’s a waste of time and money.” My opinion: it depends. I remember when first developing my marketing plan I tore through the pages of my Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators Market, wrote down every contest for which my book would be eligible, anticipating entering. As the deadlines neared, I considered the fees, the numbers of books required, and how my book would compete. Then I stopped and asked myself the most important question: “What do I want out of this?”
So far, I’ve yet to enter any of those contests in my original plan, but I will share my personal experiences over the past few months in entering three awards programs.
Question: What did I want?
Answer: A parent-tested “seal of approval”.
Discussion: This was important to me. I know many current middle grade and young adult books address very mature themes, but mine does not. I wanted readers and buyers to know that, and felt this type award demonstrated this. Yes, I was thrilled when receiving word that Believing In Horses received the “Best Product” award and the coveted seal of approval. The award provided me what I wanted – an unbiased opinion that my book was suitable for a young audience. I received the actual five sets of evaluations from parent evaluators, providing me excellent feedback, and testimonials –another bonus, for participating in this program.
Book Twirps Summer Reads Contest
Question: What did I want?
Answer: A sense for Young Adult book bloggers’ thoughts on the book.
Discussion: I put together my rather-simple package and submitted my entry, which only included a synopsis — all for free. A few months passed, and I received notification that Book Twirps cancelled the contest because they did not receive enough entries for them to consider it a real contest. Wow, I thought, all these people complaining about not getting people to recognize their work, and here went an opportunity for authors to be recognized – for free. Although the cancellation should have turned out to be a bummer, the contest took an unexpectedly good twist. Book Twirps offered the judges who had been lined up for the contest the opportunity to contact authors if they were interested in reviewing any of the books. I ended up getting a great review by well-known book blogger Jennifer Cheatham, who posted the review to many blogs and sites.
Question: What did I want?
Answer: The military audience’s perspective.
Discussion: I found out about the Stars and Flags Book Awards through my membership in the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) – a great organization, by the way. The criteria for Stars and Flags awards included some type of military connection in the book; my main character deals with the challenges of being part of a military family, such as deployments and moves. With my 25-years’ military experience, I cared what the military audience thought of my book. Fortunately, they liked it, awarding Believing In Horses First Place in the Children’s Category.
I’m not an expert, but I know more now than I did a few years ago. And I’ve culled and collected thoughts and recent references on book awards and contests from AuthorU, Her Circle, and The Savvy Book Marketer, to share, since like I said, I don’t see a lot written on book awards.
The Savvy Book Marketer: “Upcoming Book Awards and Contests.”
I discussed my personal experiences here because they have not been captured elsewhere. And after all, this is a blog, and I think it should be somewhat personal. You may also notice that the answers to what I wanted DID NOT include the words, “to sell more books.” (Did anyone else just hear my publisher screaming, “Nnnnnoooo!”?)
I hope what you do works for you, and that you think about what you want out of a contest when entering. Oftentimes, there’s more than one way to win.