Thinking of 2012

Thanksgiving brings many opportunities to reflect on our blessings. Of course I’m thankful for family and friends. I’m also thankful for my fellow writers who have encouraged me along the way as I’ve progressed in my writing career over the last ten years or so. I’m thankful to have found the right home for my first novel, and I’m looking forward to the year ahead when my book will finally be released.

Thanksgiving also brings thoughts of the Christmas season ahead. Like many people, I’m making a list (and checking it twice) of all the things I need to do in the next few weeks to make the season bright for family and friends.

Beyond that, I’m thinking of January and the release of A Voice for Kanzas. Kira Lynn, my editor, emailed one last question last week about the manuscript as they were preparing to send it to the printer. In just a few weeks the book will be printed and ready to send out into the world. A few of my fellow Apocalypsies are beginning to post reviews of their books. The very thought is both exhilarating and terrifying. Tonight I finally addressed postcards to local libraries and historical sites to let them know I’ll be available for Kansas Day talks.

2012. A new chapter of my life and my writing career. I hope you are looking forward to the possibilities of the new year as well.

Bringing a story to life


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Filming the book trailer was an incredible experience!

Ken Spurgeon arranged for us to use the Old Cowtown Museum site in Wichita as our setting. We had a sunny, cool, and windy November day–perfect for our needs. About three dozen historical reenactors (all volunteers) came out to help. Ken found three young actors to play the parts of the main character Lucy Thomkins, her brother Joseph, and runaway slave Phoebe. Some veterans of other Lone Chimney productions played the roles of Lucy’s parents and some menacing Border Ruffians. Others strolled the boardwalk of our pioneer town as residents of Lawrence. Mostly, I tried to stay out of the way and let the professional filmmakers handle it, but I was able to help set up some scenes to help recreate some details from the story.

When we climbed the stairs in the Cowtown drug store to film the scene of Lucy writing in her poetry journal, I had an overwhelming feeling of deja vu. The upstairs of that building was almost exactly as I had imagined the upper floor of the Thomkins General Store. When young Anna Spencer sat down at the desk by the window, I nearly cried with joy. It was an amazing moment. Now, whenever I am asked to read from the story, I know I will visualize Anna as Lucy.

Near the end of the day, one of the actors approached me, introduced himself, and said, “Thanks for letting us come out to play.” I could only respond, “Thank you for coming out to play!”

I feel extremely fortunate to have found Lone Chimney Films. I am so grateful for all the actors and crew who came out on a November day to help bring A Voice for Kanzas to life. I know Ken has many hours ahead to review all that raw footage, choose just the right bits and camera angles, create transitions and add the voiceover parts to produce a film less than two minutes long. I appreciate his enthusiasm for the project.

My movie adventure begins…

My husband and I are off to Wichita, Kansas this afternoon. Tomorrow we will be there while Lone Chimney Films works on scenes for the book trailer. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to see at least some of this process. After the filiming, Ken Spurgeon and his crew will work on the voice-over and editing magic that will bring a little bit of A Voice for Kanzas to life.

Besides the excitement of the filming itself, I’m really looking forward to meeting the LCF folks. As I have looked through the short bios of the LCF board and crew, I see teachers, writers, runners, artists, musicians, and horse-wranglers. Above all, it’s a group of people with a passion for learning and for bringing history to life for the present generation. Definitely my kind of people! We’ll have no shortage of fodder for conversation. I can hardly believe my good fortune in being able to work with this awesome group of professionals.

Photos and more to come soon…

Networking (You’ve got friends!)

Soon after I announced to the world that A Voice for Kanzas would be published, a friend of mine (who had another friend whose debut novel would come out 2012) told me about a great group. It seems that somehow a whole bunch of writers who had debut novels coming out in 2012 had linked arms and decided to sashay down this yellow brick road together. They called themselves, Apocalypsies, with a tag line of “Read ‘Em Like There’s No Tomorrow.”

They welcomed me with open arms, added me to their blog page, set me up on the list serve, and even told me how I could order the official t-shirt. Within days my email box was filled with the happy chatter of soon-to-be published novelists. There’s a Facebook page now, too. There is even a special group page for those of us who are working at getting into shape before our books debut. We share our new book covers as we get them. [Some are tweeting these things like crazy, but I have to admit that the Tweet is something I know not of.]  We post news about reviews. We share frustrations over long waits or seemingly impossible expectations of editors.

Through the posts of my fellow Apocalypsies I have learned more about what to expect about having publicity photos made, how to put together plans for a book trailer, how to use Goodreads to help me promote my book (I’m still learning on that one). We’ve all friended each other on Facebook and “liked” each other’s author pages. We planned a get-together at SCBWI-LA and actually met!

I think the group of 2013 is already forming now. If you’re reading this with hopes for your own debut in your near future–hook up with them. It’s great to have a support group in this little journey.

Mirror, mirror…or Camera Lens

November 11, 2011

It had to happen…the day I’ve been putting off…the publicity photo shoot..

I knew last spring I would need to have publicity photos taken. I guess most people don’t like the way they look in photos, but the fear and loathing is made more intense by the knowledge that these photos will be “out there” for everyone to see. The images will be on books, posters, press releases, etc.

The panic set in immediately. I began a diet, a new skin care regimen. In desperation I even began running–training for a marathon to be precise. My friends and family were shocked. “Whatever possessed you to do that?” they asked. Desperation, my friends. I just had to drop some weight before I went before the camera.

Publicity photos have a few challenges that you don’t encounter when embarking on regular family-photo adventures. Most importantly, the copyright issue. In order to have your photos reproduced by your publisher and for your own publicity purposes, you need a copyright release. Our Apocalypsies blog had some experiences of our peers who were going through this. Depending on the photographer and the local going-rate for these things, some of the writers were spending big bucks. I checked with a few local photographers and found prices ranging from $200 to $500 for a photo shoot at the location of my choice. Most charged an additional fee for the copyright release.

I hesitated. Spring turned to summer.

I moisturized, I exfoliated, I masked.

I ran. And ran. Eight miles, ten miles, twelve miles. All in the heat of summer.

Still, I hesitated. Summer turned to fall.

The photographer I’d orginally planned to use was pregnant, and due soon. I still couldn’t decide on the perfect location. My son offered to do the photos for me. He chose a nice location. I chose a shirt in a color I loved. But I just wasn’t thrilled. Maybe the afternoon sun was just too intense. The photos were okay, but I wasn’t ready to send them out in the world to represent me.

My marathon training stretched my running excursions to lengths I’d never dreamed of. On October 23, I ran 26.2 miles and nearly collapsed when they hung the medal around my neck. Could I have lost that fifteen pounds some easier way? Probably. But the confidence boost I gained from the experience was worth it.

Today I had the photos done. I decided to use a store-front studio in my area that is part of a national chain. (Portrait Innovations). They offered a “business package” that included several changes of backgrounds and clothing, digital images available immediately, and copyright release for several images, all for under $100. We had used the studio before for family portraits, and I liked their system. The photographer took dozens of images and I was able to choose my favorites just minutes after the shoot. I decided on several that I liked, and walked out with prints, digital images on CD, and copyright release less than an hour later.

Mission accomplished.

Here are some images:

The only downside? I ended up with lots of prints (many more than I’ll ever want or need). Maybe that means my Christmas shopping is already finished.