Thursday, June 15, 2017

Recap of the SDBAA Awards (with winners and links)

Last week, the San Diego Book Awards Association presented their awards at the Sheraton in La Jolla. There were no SDBAA awards given out last year, due to the passing of Chet Cunningham, so this year books were accepted from 2016 and 2017, and needless to say, the competition for top honors was very fierce...
I was there, breath held and fingers crossed for Eric Peterson's The Dining Car to win the top award in the Contemporary Fiction category, which it did! Congratulations, Eric, on your second gold medal for this delectable, rollicking book.



Two of my other clients had books nominated in the category of Published Young Adult Fiction— Dragon Camp by Cate Shepherd, and Paco Jones by Dominic Carrillo. I applauded loudly for both of them, but Paco Jones won!
But even before that, it was a very fun night, with plenty to applaud as we celebrated literary excellence in San Diego.
The General Fiction category was way too close to tell with Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood, Casualties by Elizabeth Marro, and Gifts Unexpected by T.C. Grant. The winner was Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood.
Judy Reeves was nominated for her newest book, Wild Women, Wild Voices and I saw that inspiring "Wild Woman" herself at the awards.
Her books' competition was a beautiful, photo-rich book by my friend Nicholas Clapp published by my long-time pals at Sunbelt Publications. Nick's beautiful book won, which was nice, but comparing the two books is like comparing apples to oranges.
Friends John Van Roekel and Indy Quillen were both nominated for their most recent works and it was nice to see them there.
The winner of the "Best of the Best" for the night, aka, the Theodor S. Geisel Award was Take a Hike by Priscilla Lister. Lots of photos of the big night are here.
There are many categories in the SDBAA awards, from local interest to military/politicalthere's always something for everyone from our local authors.
Click here to see the full list of winners.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Blazing a Trail and Blazing Laptops

I think all artists owe two things to society. One is doing their art, and the other is sharing their knowledge and expertise with the world. (Of course, it is nice if they get to share their art with the world, but some never get that chance, for myriad reasons.) I love writing, and trying to help writers get their art out there, and I adore being able to appreciate the art of writing.
As Langston Hughes said: "My motto, As I live and learn, Is dig and be dug in return."
My path as a writer has been erratic, to say the least. I started writing in school and have never stopped, but my career has largely been about other people's writing. I was surprised to find out, back in 1997, that I really liked working on other people's writing. My parents are both voracious readers, my mom is a poet and writer, and my dad is an editor, so maybe it is in my blood!
I started writing professionally by writing plays and acting in them. Enter Russel, my life partner and co-conspirator in all things, and soon I was editing a literary journal of writing about Baja California, where we were living on our sailboat.
That labor of love led me to Sunbelt Publications, where I spent over a decade happily editing, packaging, and marketing books about Mexico and the SW U.S. That was fun and challenging, but as Editor-in-Chief I was soon spending more time with P&L statements and budgets than books and authors.
On my own as a freelancer since 2011, I got back to editing books which was, and continues to be, a joy to me. I love helping writers figure out how to "tune out the static" to bring in the clear message behind the obscurity of too many words.
I have recently discovered again just how fulfilling it is to help "birth" a book by being involved from the beginning of a book's journey. My most recent "book baby," The Dining Car by Eric Peterson, just won the Gold Medal for Popular Fiction at the national IBPA Ben Franklin awards and I am so darn proud. (It's like your kid getting Student of the Year!)
Along the way, I started teaching. I started by sharing what I was, by then, an expert in—writing great query letters to editors and publishers. Soon I was teaching a popular pitch class at the Southern California Writers Conference, and I quickly joined the SCWC staff.  I teach different classes there in conference and each one is better than the last!


Another home I found as an instructor was at San Diego Writers, Ink (SDWI). Over the years, I have taught classes in everything from writing YA to crafting exciting expository. For a San Diegan like myself, SDWI represents a unique resource for our writing community, with classes happening nearly every day somewhere in the city. Mostly they happen at the wonderful Ink Spot in Point Loma's expansive Liberty Station.
I love SDWI and have supported the non-profit for years. This May I'll once again be participating in their annual Blazing Laptops fundraising event at the Ink Spot. Here is the link to my Blazing Laptops page, should you want to donate. I promise to write all day and to keep sharing whatever knowledge about writing I have with new and emerging writers.
I am so lucky to be part of a wonderful community, not just SCWC and SDWI but the world-wide community of artists who have something to say, and want to share it with the world.
hasta pronto!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Beauty is Truth (BOAW Blogfest 2017)

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today, March 6 and 11pm PST March 11th.

 "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
   Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." —
John Keats


I've been thinking a lot about truth lately...And I am probably not the only one... In an age when words and phrases like "truthiness" and "alternate facts" have been coined, we find ourselves pondering the meaning of words like truth. I believe we know, deep down, when things are true, in the same way we know when things (and people) are beautiful. It is an innate sense humans have.

So what makes a person beautiful? Honesty. I don't mean that a woman can't wear makeup, dye her hair, or even have plastic surgery, if she desires that. I am talking about the difference between being who you are—and you know who that is—and being something that other people or "society" tell you you should be.

I don't know you, so I have no idea who in your life is trying to alter the way you speak, believe, move, look, love, or even make love. But, unfortunately, if you are a woman, I can almost guarantee that someone is.

So, what to do?

Not everyone is cut out to be a rebel or an activist. But each person in this world can take a stand for their true selves, even if it is simply holding fast—continuing to believe what they believe, or love who they love, in the face of oppression and hatred. And, who knows? Perhaps taking that internal stand will lead her to express herself or resist in another more tangible way, or help another woman to do so, and that is how worldwide change begins. As the saying goes "Well-behaved women seldom make history."

And remember, if people in your life are embarrassed, appalled, or upset by who you are, or how you choose to act, then it is time to think hard about whether they are supporting your true potential, or if they are trying to mold you into their idea of who you should be.

Be your true self and be a truly beautiful woman.

hasta pronto!





 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

It's Almost Conference Time! (Five Reasons to Attend SCWC)

What happened to January?
Seriously, I blinked, I marched, and it was over... Great experience, and it was heartening to see how many young (and older) people really care what is happening to our country. You know I don't normally post about politics here, but nothing about the current state of affairs in this country of ours is NORMAL anymore.
So, let me just say that whatever you are moved to do in support of your country—whatever country you live in—get up and do it! Call, write, be prepared to vote. And maybe try to help someone else get ready to vote. Here in the U.S., it's less than two years until mid-term elections, and there will be a lot at stake (again).

Now, it's February and time to get ready to teach at the Southern California Writers Conference here in San Diego. As always, I look forward to the long President's Day weekend with anticipatory glee (as RR would say).
I've written a few posts with reasons why I advise writers to attend this conference, but it is such an important decision, so I'll remind you of a few:
1. To meet your tribe! This is perhaps the most important reason of all; we all need people in our life that "get" us and "get" our writing; you can find them at SCWC!
2. To hobnob with industry professionals. Where else can you belly up to the bar—or share morning coffee—with agents and editors and successful authors? (Too many conferences are mass affairs with an unspoken caste system where the pros all hang out together and you never actually meet anyone except first-timers who are as lost and overwhelmed as you are.) SCWC is kept to a manageable number of attendees so you'll actually meet and connect with people who you can learn from or share with.
3. To get expert eyes on your work. All too often, authors publish when their first or second draft is done, not knowing the book isn't ready to be published. Whether you submit your writing in advance or take some pages to read and critique meetings or rogue sessions, you'll learn what is working—and what isn't.
4. To learn what is happening right NOW in this fast-changing industry. With workshops on getting published & self-publishing, plus marketing & promotion for your published book, and speakers and an agents panel, there's something for everyone. I'll be bringing a client who has a fine novel just out that we're working on promoting, so I'll learn a lot, too. (There are also plenty of workshops on craft, don't worry.)
5. It's so darn fun! We writers all need to get out from behind our desks and socialize once in a while. And who doesn't want to hang out with a talented, inspiring, upbeat group of creative souls right now?
Hope to see you there—it isn't too late to get the "Early Bard" discount, by the way.
hasta pronto!