Charlottesville Book Fair

Poster large 2017

The Charlottesville Book Fair takes place on Saturday, November 18th, at City Space on the Downtown Mall, located at 100 5th Street NE, Charlottesville, VA 22902. City Space is near the Charlottesville City Hall and the Sprint Pavilion.  Parking available at East Market Street garage.

The Charlottesville Book Fair is the second local author book fair I’ve coordinated.  Last year the fair had 12 authors and was held at Writer House.  This year the Book Fair is sponsored by the Blue Ridge chapter of the Virginia Writers Club and has 40 authors, 4 Virginia-based publishers, and hundreds of book!  We needed a larger venue. That’s why this year, the Charlottesville Book Fair will be held at City Space on the downtown mall.

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Click for directions

The list of authors is impressive.  Best selling, award winning, passionate revolutionaries in thought and style. And the range of books is wide enough to entice every reader:  Historical fiction, romance, science fiction, biography, horror, self-help, parenting manuals, children’s picture books, religious, spiritual, and young adult. Books just in time for holiday shopping!

Includes Story Time for preschoolers!

Story time at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm!

Take a look at some of the books!

KINGSLEY by Carolyn O’Neal. After colony collapse disorder finishes off the bees, a mysterious pandemic emerges attacking everyone with a Y-Chromosome.  Fourteen year old Kingsley has more to lose than video games and the attention of the girl he loves.  His mother believes millions of dollars in research can save him and she’ll lie, steal and worse to get it. Can an unscrupulous mother and a spirited girl save the last boy on earth?  Fans of dystopian fiction and eco-thrillers (The Hunger Games, The MaddAddam Trilogy) will love KINGSLEY. 

Ultimate Obsession by Milton Jones. In the aftermath of World War Two, college student Elizabeth Brewer is well aware of the devastation the war had on the available young men. When she meets volatile poet James Campbell, their relationship is passionate yet disturbing. James alternates between tenderness and cruelty to the point of mental illness. Together and apart, Elizabeth and James explore whether beauty and goodness can exist in this post-war world, or will the lust for power destroy all.

 A M Carley’s book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is a writer’s handbook and reference guide. A useful source of inspiration – and intervention – when the creative juices aren’t flowing, FLOAT provides writers with numerous tools, plus the steps of the FLOAT Approach to becoming unstuck. In one reviewer’s words, FLOAT is “a must have for authors of all varieties. Actually for all artists, as well. Practical yet fun with real world steps to figuring out the next step in your project.”

TERRY AND THE MONSTER-BEATERS, written by Carolyn O’Neal, Illustrated by Pamela Evans.  Terry Book 5_4_17 aWhen Terry’s sunshine isn’t as bright as usual, she seeks the advice of a Blue Wizard, A Magic Scope, and a Green Sage (because it’s always good to get a second opinion.) From them, Terry learns that an invisible monster is nibbling on her.  They tell her to go to the Monster-Beaters to drive away the monster.  Terry travels to a castle and through a mysterious maze to find the masked Monster-Beaters.  Terry is afraid but she discovers that even though the Monster-Beaters look scary, they are smart, helpful, and kind.

 

Finally…Practical advice and resources for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers of preschool age children. The Preschool Parent Primer is a trusted guide of best practices and resources for those who care for preschoolers. Pamela Evans, author of the Preschool Parent Primer, is a veteran teacher of over 30 years.  Beyond her preschool classroom, she has developed curricula for various schools and run numerous Children’s programs. The Preschool Parent Primer is a easy to access, “go to” guide, dealing with the many issues and concerns that arise in the preschool years, including: What is normal behavior for a specific age; What to look for in a preschool; The parent-teacher relationship; Socialization; The importance of routine; Potty-training; and much more.

 

Sometimes the Little Town – Poetry by Sara M. Robinson Sara Robinson’s father, Hobby Robinson, was one of the most important photographers of the 20th century to be so little well-known, at least outside the Shenandoah Valley of central Virginia. He chronicled over three generations of Elkton townsfolk, compiling and self-publishing nine books. Using his vast collection of photographs, his own and those he obtained, he gave us a people and a place. SOMETIMES THE LITTLE TOWN is Sara’s gift of ekphrastic poetry inspired by the portraits in her father’s collection. And like her father’s work as a photographer, Sara’s poetry is a tribute to little towns everywhere.

Patsy Asuncion’s Cut on the Bias (Laughing Fire Press) is an adult poetry collection about her world slant as a bi-racial child raised by an immigrant father and American WWII vet. Powerful debut collection… with passionate imagery and deft rhythms…an American story, the story of immigrants all over the world, says Pamela Uschuk, American Book Award winner. She…blends culture survival with political awareness… accessible to readers of all ages and all backgrounds, says poet Nicole Yurcaba. Spell-binding…stories that grasp much of humankind, writes Author Angela Carter. Post WWII immigrants to today’s world drama, Cut on the Bias, considers universal issues.

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Inspired by her family’s experiences, Amy Lee-Tai has crafted an award-winning picture book, A PLACE WHERE SUNFLOWERS GROW. Mari wonders if anything can bloom at Topaz, where she’s interned along with thousands of other Japanese Americans during World War II. The summer sun is blazingly hot, and Mari’s art class has begun. But it’s hard to think of anything to draw in a place where nothing beautiful grows. Somehow, glimmers of hope begin to surface under the harsh sun – in the eyes of a kindly art teacher, in the tender words of Mari’s parents, and in the smile of a new friend. To learn more about the book and author, please visit www.amyleetai.com. According to U.S. Congressman Mike Honda, Amy’s book “shines a light on what we are capable of penetrating on our fellow citizens, and what we are capable of rising above.”

Tiger Pelt, a historical novel for adult readers, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 and awarded the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award’s bronze medal for historical fiction.  “Korea serves as a perfect crucible for Kim’s expansive and impressive historical fiction debut, in which the characters must struggle against overwhelming odds… her vision is powerfully executed, taking readers through all the important landmarks of 20th-century Korean history, including the end of Japanese occupation and the division of Korea.” – Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)

 Clare Sullivan De Lune relives her earlier years and reunites with her family when she goes back to her roots in the South. After an adventurous but unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California her life takes a new turn when she and her heartthrob Henry resettle on the East Coast. Secure in a love that had a risky beginning, they both plunge into challenging new careers. With talent and determination Clare achieves stardom as she turns over a new leaf on the road to happiness. “A very enjoyable read by a novelist who mixes romance, family scenes, workplace scenes, humor, sightseeing info, restaurant meal descriptions and plenty of insight into human nature.” – David Astor, On Literature blog.

 The New York Times bestseller, A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons, is the story of a courageous man of color who was “enamoured with freedom” and determined to rise. Paul Jennings, born into slavery at Montpelier, was President James Madison’s manservant, and, once free, the author of the first White House memoir. This book sheds new light on Jennings’s complicated relationships with James Madison, the widowed Dolley Madison who broke her promise to free him, and Senator Daniel Webster who lent Jennings his purchase price. It details Jennings’s part in rescuing the portrait of George Washington from British torches, and his later efforts to help 77 men, women, and children reach freedom in the greatest-scale-ever-attempted slave escape.

Heart of a Dragon The Andrachen royal line rests uneasily. King Sebastian’s notorious lust for control spreads trepidation throughout Lismaria as power struggles monger hostility. Kinna’s irrepressible draw to the Dragons seems harmless until a discovery turns her life upside-down. Her search for answers morphs into a movement to overcome repression. But following her heart means danger and death for nearly everyone she loves. Will she choose safety or justice? As Sebastian’s power grows and darkness blankets Kinna’s hopes, her doubts overwhelm. Can she unveil her own heart of a dragon in time to face Sebastian for the ultimate showdown? 

Guardian of the Vale Alayne Worth, a seventeen-year-old Water-Wielder, enters Clayborne Training Institute along with a host of Elementals her age to hone her abilities. When she discovers that her abilities extend far beyond only Water-Wielding, her fears increase as those who thirst for power seek to strip her of the Vale, the source of her talents.Tension blights Clayborne as the Elemental Alliance comes into power, and a clash between Natural Humans and Elementals threatens to destroy all those Alayne loves. Homework, friendship, and romance turn dark as enemies close ranks on Alayne. Will she survive the struggle that eventually shadows all of CommonEarth?

For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. With Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and break the hex to save her best friend and homeland.

A Manual for Developing Humans is the third book PMH Atwater was told to write during her third near-death experience.  Based entirely on threes, each section covers the conscioussubconscious, and superconscious aspects of the topic – every topic – for the Manual contains the basics for becoming fully human.  Being  more spiritual is backwards thinking.  The real goal of life is to become who we already are.  “Hu” was the ancient sound of God.  “Hu-Man” meant “God-Man.” Literally, we are each gods in the making.  Twenty-eight thoughtform drawings illustrate this unusual Manual.  Aliveness jumps from every page.   

 Treason in the Secret City “The secret World War II-era nuclear experiments carried on at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, provide ample incentives for spying—and ample opportunities for amateur sleuths.   The pressure cooker of suspicion that permeates the facility makes it nearly impossible to know whom to trust. This sequel to Scandal in the Secret City (2014), which has some basis in fact, is faster-paced than Fanning’s debut while maintaining the 1940s atmosphere and emphasizing the difficulties of wartime life, especially for educated women.” Kirkus Reviews

Eyes Without A Face is a first-person account from a female serial killer. While her sorority sisters were engaged in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, she finds her true calling when she kills her first victim. She doesn’t have a neon sign stating, “Warning! Serial Killer!” following her around, yet she moves through life carrying a secret: She is a killer and no one suspects her. For her first premeditated kill, she selects a distracted victim, stalks her, and chokes her “to see what it looks and feels like to cause someone to die.”

 Beyond the cemetery gates, rows upon rows of headstones are lined up in military precision. Each is inscribed with a soldier’s name and regiment and each of them has a story to tell.   Stories Beneath the Stones: Richmond National Cemetery by Joann Meaker, newly published by American History Press, Staunton, VA, is the result of years of extensive research utilizing a multitude of documents and a variety of source materials exploring the lives of the Civil War soldiers who were buried in the Richmond National Cemetery when it opened 150 years ago. This one-of-a-kind book details information that will be appreciated and valued by descendants, historians, genealogists, as well as those interested in the Civil War and historic cemeteries. For more details of each book check out my website: www.joannmeaker.com

F.A.C.T.S. (Faith and Commitment Through Scripture) A New Testament Bible Study Series, Book 1:  Journey through the New Testament, exploring the period and setting in which the letters were written, as well as the circumstances of the authors when they wrote them. This uncomplicated and easy-to-follow series of studies begins with the earliest written letters, following the writers through their travels and trials until the last book was composed. Each verse is explained in context with the times in an attempt to stay true to the author’s intent. The series is intended for both personal study and group studies.  Other books by Joanne Liggan include her romantic suspense family saga trilogy spanning a 30 year period beginning in the 1970’s and ending in 2030; Heir of Deception, Air of Truth, and Err at Sea.

Linda Palacios, an undocumented college student, crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he finds a job as a mechanic in the barrio. While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, la migra raids her workplace and she loses her job. Will the three of them allow God to guide them, or will their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?

A lost lamb, a cross, and a conversation with Jesus are the components in this touching, poetic message of forgiveness, mercy, love, and the Savior’s ultimate act of sacrifice. LAMB OF GOD:INSPIRATIONAL STORY AND JOURNAL FOR CHILDREN, by author Christine Maria Jahn, is geared towards ages seven through nine, or second through fourth grades, and includes Bible verses to learn, as well as journal pages for young ones to write their thoughts and prayers. The sketches are black and white to purposely have children concentrate on the story itself and the important message contained within it. However, children can color the sketches if they so choose. There is also plenty of space on the story pages for doodling. A great way to introduce children to the art of journaling without it being overwhelming.

Tabby House presents Virginia-based books for all ages, including Linda Salisbury’s award-winning Bailey Fish Adventure children’s series that combine fiction with Virginia history. She’s also the author of The Sword and the Broom: The Exceptional Career and Accomplishments of John Mercer Langston, which won a silver award in the Young Adult category of Foreword magazine’s national Indies contest in 2017. Langston, Virginia’s first African American Congressman (1888), was born in Louisa County to a white plantation owner and his former slave. It’s a stunning and inspirational story that’s largely unknown today. Jim Salisbury will sell his popular cookbook, Roadkill Roundup, (with samples)—a perfect holiday gift for cooks of all ages.

Elizabeth Van Zandt – Ashes of The Stars: The Stars Series Book 1: Aili Renault doesn’t care that the modern world and billions of people died 200 years ago. She doesn’t care that extremist factions rose up and created another war, but she does care that the war controls her entire life. In a world of kill or be killed, Aili fought back to survive and became what everyone knows as the Reaper. She is feared everywhere she goes, even in her own mind. When Aili meets Kieran, Kai, and Whitestrand, the ghosts of her ruthless, bloody past start fighting back. She is haunted by the memories of those lives she’s destroyed and a dream that never made sense to her before. Now, with eyes wide open, will Aili be able to pull herself out of her crumbling world or will she become ashes of the stars?

Cat Viggolone just can’t get a break. She’d gotten married, but that ended when the husband left her for his younger secretary. She’d wanted children. That flew out the window along with the cheating husband. There’s the career, but working a window at the Virginia DMV can’t really be classified as a great career choice. At thirty-three, her life had become positively dull.   Then the vortex opened. Cat’s life is definitely no longer humdrum and ordinary.

 Judith D. Howell’s SWAMP RITES is a supernatural/horror/romance novel about werewolves. It’s about a reunion weekend for four childhood friends, with love, obsession, secrets, and murder, in a little Louisiana swamp town. SWAMP LEGACY, Book II in the SWAMP SERIES trilogy, is recently published and also available. “Desiring a werewolf might not be so hard, especially when voodoo is involved, but learning to love him could be a lot more difficult.” It is adult reading, scene and language specific.

CAIRNAERIE By M.K.B. Graham  Geneva Snow commits the unpardonable Southern sin, forcing her devastated yet steadfast father to cloister her at Cairnaerie, his Virginia mountain estate. After years alone—and desperate to leave a legacy worthy of the father she loved and lost—Geneva engages an unwitting young history professor to help her to leave Cairnaerie long enough to witness the wedding of her granddaughter—a girl dangerously unaware of their shared lineage. But when an accusation of impropriety, a mail clerk’s malevolence, and a colleague’s revenge converge, the long-kept secret is exposed. And for a second time, Geneva faces a calamity of her own making. Only this time, there is no place to hide.

 Freedom Riders by Jean Young Kilby is a middle-school mystery that brings an era of explosive social change up close and personal through the eyes of two girls. Growing up in the racially segregated South doesn’t bother 12-year-old Jan. She’s pretty clueless, always burying her nose in mystery books. Thelma, however, is a girl with a dream. Someday she wants to be a Freedom Rider like her dad so she can make Mississippi a better place. When Jan meets Thelma, they quickly become entangled in a real-life mystery more complicated than they expected. They are thwarted at every turn in their pursuit of truth. But once they learn friends can come in all colors—once they learn dreams can be shared—amazing discoveries follow.

 Alone in the tapestry of a shimmering green forest, standing on a mist covered mountain top, or crossing a rippling creek, we find her majesty. In that place of serenity, nature sends her emissaries. If only we are willing to see and hear her sometimes subtle yet powerful ways. Mystical Animals of Ancient Oak is a series of true stories that chronicles the journey that Cynthia Fain took after her mother nearly died. Along that unchartered emotional path, nature sent Cynthia her finest healers, including a flightless duck, a cat that served as community ambassador and an aging squirrel.

Rain Makes the Rocks Sing, Inspirations from Nature By Louise M. Mitchell, louise-mitchell@comcast.net   A great gift for nature lovers, spiritual seekers, and anyone wanting the relief that humor and wisdom bring. Ever pick up a little stone that catches your attention and put it in your pocket? This collection of inspirations is for you. Captured in a deck of cards with explanatory book (sold as a set), the voice of wisdom that awakens the light within. “While electronic media are common sources for daily information,” the author says, “so too, is the web of timeless knowledge woven through nature.”

 Retired U.N. spy Mai Fisher leaves a diplomatic reception on a cold, rainy night and dashes for the first cab she sees. The driver’s Serbian tattoo makes her suspicious, and she forces him to admit he was waiting for her—to deliver her to the Russian Mafiya.  Alexei Bukharin left the life of a spy behind to spend time with his wife, Mai Fisher, and finish raising his college-student granddaughter, Natalia. When he brings Mai dry clothes after her encounter, he discovers she’s suffered something that can mean death: Someone knows her true identity. A raid on the Russian thugs’ apartment uncovers something more devastating, a photograph of Natalia at her university.   Who burned Mai? Why is the Russian underworld interested in Natalia? When Alexei discovers the answers, he realizes a decision he made in 1974 has come back to haunt him.

Banished as a boy, Damon Blackbourne vowed never to return to his family’s estate, much less London. However, when his father and brother die unexpectedly, Damon must assume the Malford dukedom and introduce his sisters to society–his worst nightmare. He never planned on Lady Grace Mattersley. The debutante stirs him body and soul. Until she discovers his secret. Grace prefers solitude and reading to social anything. Her family may be pressuring her to marry, but she has other plans. And they don’t include the notorious new Duke of MalfordWill she betray him? Or will she be his saving Grace

His love made her strong, her love saved him.  Rebellion  brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert. Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down. Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Revolutionary new way to look at relationships and marriage that offers a 4-step program for achieving a profoundly fulfilling and lasting bond with a partner.  In a culture of individualism that focuses on the behavior of each individual in a partnership, this book brings in a third entity, “Couple” that is greater than the sum of its parts and is the key to creating and maintaining lifelong love.  Couple is part of a process that is facilitated by completing the 4 tasks of Lifelong Love in the following order: Commitment to a common vision for the relationship, Cooperation to achieve that committed vision, Communication that serves the common vision, not only the needs of the individuals, and a Community of other couples who support and nurture the relationship. Filled with examples based on the authors’ experience as clinical psychologists and co-founders of Couples Coaching Couples, Inc., as well as their 40-year marriage, this book provides the tools you need to have the profoundly satisfying and lasting relationship of your dreams

         

Meghan and Kyle head off to spend some quality mother-son time at a resort along the idyllic Lake Oleander. The picturesque and secluded escape promises a nearly perfect summer vacation. The seemingly placid lake also holds a dark secret; the bodies of those sacrificed to the local deity. Their arrival sets the gears of an ancient prophecy in motion. They find themselves suddenly set against unimaginable forces, ancient and evil, hoping to either forestall or accelerate the prophecy’s fruition. Deep beneath the bedrock of the town of Riapoke, an evil lay festering for hundreds of years. It waits patiently for the inevitable day it will taste freedom and claim what its rightful heritage.  

Much has been written about Thomas Jefferson, from drafting the Declaration of Independence until his death, but little was known about our iconic founding father’s first 31 years of life: his adolescence, friends, boarding schools, family deaths, college years, courting Martha, law practice, Shadwell house fire, earthquakes, flood, and more! The 2017 Pacific Book Review “First Place” Award winning biography, Thomas Jefferson-From Boy to Man is a biographical and historical account of Jefferson’s journey to manhood. Written in journal format and supplemented with background text, it includes 65 photos to enhance the reader’s imagination. Now you can listen to Thomas Jefferson reminisce about his youth in the new audio book, which was just awarded “Finalist” in the Multi-Voice Acting category by the Audio Publishers Association! To understand the man, it is important to learn about the boy!

What About Me?  by Marc Boston is the story of a little girl, the youngest of three, who desperately seeks the attention of her two older sisters.  They go about the business of having fun, blithely unaware of their littlest sister’s attempts to join in the play.  This story touches on how discovering our own gifts makes us more self-empowered.

OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS Zachary Tamer has published three children’s books, The Story of the Snugglefink, The Return of Foggitytree and The City of Paws2Care. All of the stories follow the same characters and deal with themes such as environmental protection, volunteerism, and seeing more than ourselves in the mirror! The City of Paws2Care can only be purchased online and all proceeds go to the therapy dog company Paws2Care. All stories are for children ages 5-9. Most recently Zachary and his father collaborated on a poetry book, Fleeting Moments, which reflects their life experiences and their unique writing styles

  Exciting Adult Science Fiction Adventure in a Universe of Uncanny Aliens — the Forlani Saga novels by J. M. R. Gaines
Life Sentence — Convicted of three murders, whistle-blower Willie Klein finds himself transported to a penal colony on Domremy where his unlikely job is to kill fellow colonists before they fall into the clutches of insectoid Locals. His gruesome task is only relieved by the growing affection of Entara, an alien pleasure worker from a matriarchal world. Until their brief happiness is destroyed by an arranged marriage and sinister conspirators. Spy Station — When Forlani delegate Entara and her eldest daughter Ayan’we are summoned to the Interzonal Peace Conference, they find themselves in a web of deceit. Preventing an apocalyptic war between the belligerent Song Pai and the mysterious Blynthians seems nearly impossible.

 

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Origin Stories and Anniversaries

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Photos courtesy of Gareth Phillips

 

The idea for my novel, Rook, was born out of a dream. I’m just grateful it arrived on my day off.

The dream came while I was living in the apartment my husband and I first shared after we got married, a place, I’m certain, which contained magical properties. Stretching over 1500+ square feet on the basement level of a Depression-era mansion, this space featured terracotta tiled floors, a three-season porch, steam heat, a room-sized butler’s pantry, a staircase to nowhere, one bathroom (covered in mismatched tiles—crazy-quilt style), as well as six separate exits to other parts of the house, including the boiler room. There was a forbidden fireplace and two non-functioning dumbwaiters. One of these became our liquor cabinet. A room-sized vault, with two sets of metal doors and a dial lock, served as our guest room. The previous tenant, a friend, had disabled the locking mechanism so that…well, you know. No one ever suffocated or got locked in while visiting us, but this apartment was so labyrinthine that guests often got lost trying to get back to the bathroom or kitchen.

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Living room and vault

 

Our bedroom opened onto the porch through french doors with beveled glass panes, and we slept under floor-to-ceiling, built-in wooden shelves filled with books. The books and the strange arrangement of space, I’m sure, helped usher in that Rook-dream of thieves, houses, and ghosts one late September morning.

Along with a thick, strange mood and a few images (which survived), I woke from the dream with a few words: stealing from the houses of the recently dead. I scribbled them into the notebook that I kept by my bed. The words bloomed into something more. I remember thinking: this is a good idea for a story, and an hour later, this is a good idea for a book. At some point, I switched to the computer, which I usually reserved for editing, because my hand just couldn’t keep up. Occasionally, I paused, thinking I had captured it all, and tried to do something else, but more ideas came. Eventually, my husband got curious. He’s a writer too, so when I said “I’m writing something, maybe a book,” he just smiled and left me alone.

By the end of that day, I knew my characters by name. I had mapped out a plot, written a beginning, and an ending. I knew the title and its significance. I had churned out six, single-spaced pages of text. (A big deal for a poet—I hadn’t seen that many of my own words together in one piece since my last research paper.) By the end of that week, the page count climbed to twenty. The rest of the novel, naturally, took much longer to develop. Still, the process elated me. It felt like watching something strange and intricate rise up out of deep water—the architecture of it incomprehensible, even chaotic at first, then unbelievably connected and orderly. Writing it was a pleasure and a gift.

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Bedroom and books

 

For a long time, I polished up this novel in solitude. With much anxiety, I finally let my husband read it. I researched the next steps—synopses, query letters, literary agents—and plodded on through the process. At this point, I’ve obliged several requests for my full manuscript and collected a significant pile of rejections. (My favorite is the elusive, non-response rejection—it’s made of pure silence!)

This process neither pleases nor elates.

Last October, I met with several members of BACCA and accepted an invitation to join their group. Since then, I have read their stories, and they have read mine. Slowly, chapter by chapter, story by story, we give each other our attention and time and consideration. After years of silence and solitude, walking through the rooms of Rook by myself (for the most part), I’ve finally allowed company in. Like the initial dream, this experience is another gift—one that I hadn’t known to ask for before.

While I continue seeking agent representation, our meetings seem even more necessary. Not only are these authors wise about all stages of the process, they are fierce and understanding—a rich paradoxical mix that creatives need to thrive and survive. Some say that one must grow a thick skin for this business. That might be easier. We need to be sound enough to weather the rejection that comes, but it’s through a thin skin that I see and feel. Without this sensitivity, what of worth will I have to write down?

During the brutal querying time, having a few careful readers, who know how to put books together, who care to look at the details—to sort out what’s working and what needs work—well, it means everything. Anniversaries are good moments to pause and say thank you. So, to the demigods of deadlines and leisure time, to the sender of provocative dreams, to the architects of the magic mansion, to my first reader and best champion, and to the thoughtful members of BACCA: most grateful thanks.

Noelle Beverly writes poetry and prose, promotes local authors in the surrounding community, and is new member of the BACCA Literary group.

 

Meaning Mining

Pens

houstonwritersguild.org

Well, the school year is about to start, and I now have two unfinished writing projects instead of the usual one.  Three, if you count my ambition to arrange my poetry into a collection.  Now, as I turn my attention to preparing classes, and as I, like the rest of Charlottesville, reel from the recent invasion of the alt-right, I am more grateful than ever for the support and patience of my fellow BACCA members. I hope to publish, and to reach a wider audience, but meanwhile, as always, it is writing and friendship that keep me sane. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that BACCA is a place where we support each other in the struggle for meaning.  I spoke with a friend today who teaches at Piedmont Community College, and, when asked to address one of the many meetings held to prepare for teaching in these troubled times, she surprised herself by bursting out crying. We talked about the scariness of this allegedly “post-truth” era.  I think that each writer is like a miner, digging for the truth of his or her own experience.  I told her that, in crying, she probably did her colleagues good, because she was expressing what many of them longed to but couldn’t. I hope that in BACCA we can continue to devote ourselves to such expression, whether in joy, sadness, or the more common in-between territory, and to support each other in this devotion.  Thanks to you all.  Onward.

writer-fist

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Marketing My Self Published Book: A first-time author’s journey

First things first

Before any public appearances, clarify your on-line/social media message.  Who are you? What is your book about? Is it funny? Romantic? Dramatic? Does your book reflect your passions? Your message should be in your on-line presence. I have a website, an author Facebook page, and a twitter account.  That’s where readers go to learn about me and my novel, KINGSLEY.

Getting Book Signings on the Calendar

Indie Bookstores are a great place for indie authors.  But, be forewarned, they sometimes have problems with selling self-published… and they have a good reason: Amazon is their biggest competitor.   This can be a problem is you are using Create Space to print your book.

ON THE OTHER HAND…. Independent coffeehouses that also sell books are very accommodating and lots of fun.  Owners and managers are always looking for events to bring people in.  And customers in coffeehouses are looking for reading material.  Even if customers don’t buy my book right away, I’ve told them about my novel and given them a flyer.

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Generally my take  from the book sales is split 80-20 (I get 80%, they get 20%), especially if they are processing credit cards. But keep in mind that the purpose of this book signing isn’t just about the money.  The real purpose is to get your name and book out there.  Expand your reach to different geographical areas if you can afford the time and cost of travel.

How to make contact

Stopping in the coffeehouse for a drink and a bite to eat is the best introduction!   See the set up and talk to the staff.  Perhaps even talk with the manager.  If you can’t talk face to face, most coffeehouses have websites. Send them an email!  Here is an example:

Hi Nick,

I am a local author- I live in Charlottesville-and I was wondering if Milli Joe’s is interested in hosting a book signing. I would take care of publicity and would bring everything needed.

My novel is set in Virginia – including Charlottesville- so there is lots of local interest.

I hope we can work out a date.

Thank you very much,
Carolyn O’Neal
Carolynoneal@comcast.net

Say you get something like this in response:

Hi Carolyn,

Glad to hear you’re interested in hosting your signing at Milli!  I’m definitely very interested, we’ve hosted a couple in the past & I really enjoy this kind of thing.  We do have to be somewhat selective in booking these events to make sure they send the kind message we can get behind as an organization.  Could you tell me a little about the book?  Thanks!
Nick
Now the ball is back in your court:
Hi Nick,
Thank you so much for getting back to me.  I am an environmentalist so I usually write ecologically-themed fiction.  KINGSLEY is the title of my novel.   It’s set in Virginia (including Charlottesville) and centers on a 14 year old boy (named Kingsley) facing an environmentally driven pandemic. Comparable titles would be Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy in that KINGSLEY starts in the present and ends around 40 years in the future.   I would recommend KINGSLEY to readers 14 years old or older.  I does have some complex science but no explicit sex or violence.
You can read more about KINGSLEY, including reviews, on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/28PfNhL
I’ve attached the flyer that I hand out at book signings.  You’ll notice that there’s a bee on the cover.  I tell people stopping by my table that in KINGSLEY,  I have taken the real world devastation of the honeybees and moved it up the food chain to humans.  This usually get their attention.  Everyone walks away with something from my table, whether it is a book, flyers from my favorite environmental groups, or insight into how they can help preserve the honeybees.
I’m flexible on date and time for the book signing.
Best regards,
Carolyn O’Neal
Set the Date and Time for this book signing and start the process again for your next book signing.

Note: This is where some prep work comes in handy.  I mentioned handing out flyers at book signings.  Flyers are also a good to give to the coffeehouse manager as an introduction to you and your book.  They should tell readers something about your book, including the cover, and contact information.

Single flyer

Drop off flyers at the coffeehouse a week before the book signing so customers will know you’re coming.  Be sure your social media is ready so customers can read about you and your book in advance.  Contact local newspapers and post your book signing on their events calendars.  Post the event on all your social media and ask friends and family to share.  Send emails about the event to everyone you know and tell everyone you see.

Finally, be prepared for whatever happens, whether you sell all the copies of your book or none at all.  You’ve spread the word and sharpened your pitch.   Pick yourself up and contact another coffeehouse and set another date.

Practice, practice, practice.

Prepping for your book signing….  Coming in my next blog post

A Few Things I’ve Learned About Writing

Reflecting on recent lessons learned, I made this list of highlights, all to do with being a writer.

If…

• If the passive voice were to be used along with conditional or subjunctive or some such mood, and if I were to be given material from a client that happened to include such longwinded and painstakingly constructed language, it might be possible that, as the person being compensated for simplifying the client’s material so that a stranger to the topic might be able to comprehend it, I found myself reducing a lengthy sentence into one declarative statement of few words.

How long?

• Varying the sentence lengths in a long-form piece rocks.

Teacher, teacher!

• My clients and the writers in my writer group are excellent at teaching me how to improve my writing.

• Also, the fictional Emily Starr, protagonist of Lucy Maud Montgomery‘s trilogy, reminds me to keep at it. Emily’s writing career can be a great example of persistence and doggedness, traits that can get the work done, done well, and out the door.

I noticed three copies of my book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, at a local bookshop last week.

Bookstores

• As rewarding as writing is for its own sake, it is also cool to see a book you wrote on the shelf of a local bookstore. [Hazard of visiting my books at the bookstore: Now I want to read all the other books on the shelf….]

• It’s also even cooler to be paid for books that sold off that shelf.

Funny

• Humor comes in lots of flavors and strengths. It’s often just the ticket (even in nonfunny writing).

An invitation, or a rebuke?

Joy

• Writing can be a pleasure, and a blank page an invitation. When it isn’t, it can be worthwhile to explore why that is. Sometimes even a small change can switch it back into something that feels OK or even good.

Connection

• Writers have a lot to learn from their readers. Sending out the completed book or story or article doesn’t need to be the end of a writer’s (one-sided) connection with readers. Some readers want to know more about – even get acquainted with – the author of that thing they enjoyed reading. And in non-creepy ways.

For me?

Gifts

• Beta readers are generous. When someone volunteers to read your new work before it’s released or published, and then gives you structured, useful feedback about it – that’s pretty much the ideal gift. At least for a writer. Well, online reviews are pretty wonderful, too, now that you mention it.

Like water

• A writer group can make a wannabe writer into a legit one. So can a writing coach. It’s like water on a stone. Slowly, over time, edges are delineated, and rough surfaces polished.

• There’s always more to learn.

— A M Carley writes fiction and nonfiction, and is a founding member of BACCA. Her company, Chenille Books, provides creative coaching and manuscript development services to authors. Her first nonfiction book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, is available for purchase at Central Virginia booksellers and on Amazon. #becomingunstuck 

Moulting: A Writing Group Grows – and Grows Up

In June of 2011, four fiction classmates met at a local coffee shop to critique each other’s work. Fast-forward to June of 2017: six authors who cross genres will cross state lines to attend an annual writing retreat at a mountain getaway. There will have been roughly 70 monthly meetings in between these two Junes – plus anniversary dinners, blog posts and podcasts, classes attended and taught, contracts negotiated, books published, and writers’ conference appearances – some even paid! As I look back over all of this, I’m deeply moved.

King Penguin mid-moult, courtesy Sea World

 

However, this growing thing is not exactly easy. “Growing up” started a couple of years ago with shrinking down, actually. One of our founders got a great job 427 miles away. We kept up our monthly meetings via Skype when we could. But it became clear that if we regularly wanted to have at least four critiques on our work, BACCA would need another member.

Our interview process lasted about six months. Some folks were not the right fit because their writing was in areas we felt ill-equipped to critique (romance, theology, police drama). Others balked at our schedule – multiple critiques a month, a two-hour meeting, plus occasional retreats and appearances – a significant commitment. So we were pretty stoked when not one but two candidates really seemed like a match. We are thrilled to have two novelists accept our invitation to join BACCA this year: Noelle Beverly and Andrea Fisher Rowland. Welcome! So now BACCA is five on the regular, and six when we can.

Truth be told, however, this growth hasn’t been totally graceful. Yet. Five critiques is almost double three, and we are feeling the extra work. Is the right answer to clear out more time in our personal schedules during critique weeks? Spread out the submissions over two weeks? Rotate critiques? We haven’t quite found the rhythm yet. A little more math reveals that 20-minute critiques for 4 writers in two hours leaves some breathing room for general discussion. But six 20-minute critiques is 2 hours on the nose, leaving little room for tea and coffee and conversation. Is the right answer to trim the critiques down to 15 minutes? Extend our meetings by a half hour? We haven’t quite figured that one out yet, either. Plus, of course, there is the nature of the critiques themselves. We’ve been loosely following Luke Whisnant’s critiquing guidelines since the start of the fiction class where we met. Perhaps too loosely? We’re finding ourselves taking a fresh look at our process with the benefit of new eyes. It’s not quite clear yet what makeovers might take place. And, of course, Skype is not always cooperative!

I’m mostly fine (but occasionally self-conscious) about this awkward phase. It may be a bit itchy and scraggly, but it’s the moulting that’s the passage from the cygnet to the swan. Or, in this case – because I prefer their cute little faces – the chick to the penguin. I’m confident we’ll soon be navigating these new waters with the greatest of ease.

Bethany Joy Carlson is a founding member of BACCA and screenwriter.

Resist, persist, and “make good art:” or, why I still need to forgive Rainer Maria Rilke

spring one

The world is rich with encouraging words for writers. Some of my favorite right now come from Neil Gaiman, who in a commencement speech said: “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.” I’m pretty sure I can make some glorious mistakes.

The ether is also lousy with bad advice. Too often, this is what sticks. Once, just after college, I met a lauded children’s book author, who had been invited to speak to a group of smart, creative kids about his writing process. Afterwards, I confessed my own ambitions, and he said “you have to be experienced to be a writer; you have to really live in the world before you can do anything important.” Discouraging words. Presumptuous. Ironic. Moronic. Don’t even dare to make, create, do, or try until you’re older? I wanted to cover the ears of all children within a twenty mile radius. I wanted to cover my own ears too.

Even my most beloved poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, let me down a little when, in offering advice to a young poet, famously insisted that one ask the question “must I write?” And, if the answer is less than a resounding “yes,” he lamented that “to feel that one could live without writing is enough indication that, in fact, one should not.” I tested myself during a long hiatus from writing adventures while I recovered from graduate school. Nope—I did not have to write; I proved it by not writing. Or did I?

The page stayed blank, but my creative energy spewed over everything else. Intricately constructed cheese boards emerged. Surreal mantle displays surfaced, along with invented games, and shrines devoted to all variations of the color green. My living space transformed into a museum of I’m-not-writing art installations. Creativity is a natural state, it seems. Our imaginations may have been squelched by those who meant well, or didn’t, but we all have a spark of something.

clementine one

pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, why are folks so eager to set up boundaries around the imagination? Why do we let them? The mantras of the gatekeepers have always been with us. You are an artist only if…you’re too young, you’re too old…you aren’t wise, smart, damaged, poor, rich, connected enough to make it as a writer, why even try? For those of us who consider artistic endeavor an important act of resistance in dark times, it’s even more necessary to ignore these and to persist right now. While bullies with power choose to destroy, others must dare to create. Young, old, solvent, broke, connected, friendless, all. The world can afford nothing less.

Here are some moves that help me press on. Find others who are also engaged in their own creative work. (Hello, BACCA. Thanks for having me.) Write nearly every day and lose yourself in it. Be brave enough to jump down the rabbit hole. I’m never sorry when I do. Discover beauty everywhere—spring is a great time for this. It’s hard to imagine a more audacious rebel than spring.

spring three

 

And…listen to the encouraging words. A few more from Neil Gaiman: “Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”

 

 

Noelle Beverly writes poetry and prose, promotes local authors in the surrounding community, and is new member of the BACCA Literary group. Photos by the author.

What Next? Celebrating Non-Celebrities

immigrant_workers

The recent election changed me.  Like thousands of others, I had always felt I was doing my duty by speaking my mind (mostly on facebook and with friends) and by voting.  Now I think of myself as a “baby activist.”  I am full of admiration for those who have been calling, writing, and showing up all along to communicate with their representatives and hold them accountable, and now I am trying to do the same.

But fundamentally, I am a writer, and it is my response as a writer that (I hope) could be most valuable.  I am just finishing up a novel on which I have worked for a very long time, and I find that the widening inequalities in our country have put a new idea into my head.  I want to celebrate our “non-celebrities.”  These are the people who will not appear on T.V. shows except perhaps for a few seconds, whose pay barely keeps them alive, and who do good in numberless ways.  The people who first come to mind are the CNAs–Certified Nursing Assistants– who take care of our elderly in assisted living and nursing homes.  Their jobs are very difficult and grossly underpaid, yet so many of them are remarkably patient, compassionate and effective.  They do a lot of good, and yet, they are undervalued and, to many, they are invisible.

I don’t know yet in what form I would like to write about these people–fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of the two.  And maybe this is one of those ideas that arise only to disappear. But it has that exciting, half-submerged feeling of an idea that won’t go away.  A perspective in which so many people are so underestimated is an unbalanced perspective.  I would like to add a little weight to the other side of the scale.

helth-service-img9

Thank you, Princess Leia

When Star Wars came out in the summer of 1977, I was 20 years old. I enjoyed the movie but I didn’t get Princess Leia. Princess?  Really?

princess-passes-away

Carrie Fisher, our Princess, passes away.    StarWars.com

She didn’t look like a princess.  She didn’t wear sparkling gowns to the ball.  She didn’t even go to a ball! She didn’t cry when she was captured.  She didn’t swoon when she was rescued. She did none of these.  She took charge.  She grabbed Luke’s gun and shot an escape route right into the garbage pit, and then jumped in head first.  What kind of Princess does that?

Truth is I don’t remember watching any shows with Princesses when I was growing up.  I liked action and heroes so I watched WESTERNS!  Bonanza, The Rifleman, and High Chaparral, to name a few.  Handsome men and daring adventures.  If you’ve seen any these series, you know that women had one role—to marry the male lead and then promptly die.  Shot by a stray bullet during a gunfight was the usual culprit.  That gave time for one last kiss before dying in the male lead’s arms. Sure there were the occasional barmaids like Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, but for most women in westerns, their roles were to die.  What was the reason behind these oft-repeated 60-minute courtship/marriage/death scenarios?  This was the 60’s remember.  Men didn’t cry on TV or in real life.  Not unless they had a good reason and a dead wife was a good reason.  Dead wives gave the male leads a reason to cry or seek revenge or go temporarily insane. All of which made for great TV but wasn’t much of a role model for impressionable preteen female viewers like me.

Carolyn on her big brother's shoulders, probably watching westerns and pretending to be a cowboy.

Carolyn on her big brother’s shoulders, probably watching westerns and pretending to be a cowboy.

Then came Star Wars and things changed.  The most popular motion picture on the planet had a pretty young Princess who wasn’t just as a plot device.  She didn’t wear ball gowns or worry about her hair.  She didn’t pine over a boyfriend or worry about her wedding. She was tough! She challenged the men who captured her and bested the men who rescued her, all the while never losing who she was by trying to be just one of the guys.  She never lowered herself in an effort to seek popularity or approval.

Forty years later, TV and movies have a slew of tough young heroines:  Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, Rey and Jyn Erso in the latest Star Wars movies.  And writers are emboldened to have strong female characters, too.  As the author of KINGSLEY, I know a thing or two about writing powerful female characters.  I have heroes and villains, scientists and tradesmen all who are women. (per the Kirkus Reviews … KINGSLEY sports “a strong cast of varied and complex women.”) It’s actually the guys that need rescuing.  I like to think that Princess Leia would be proud.

Kingsley1A2 boy and honeycomb 1

 available on Amazon.com

 

 

One-line summary of my novel.

I have been asked for a one-line description of my novel, which, as you may know, doesn’t seem much easier than writing the novel.  Below is what I’ve come up with.  Do you think that if you were an agent this would encourage you to read more?

Thanks,

Andrea

A flock of swans, a polluted pig wallow, and a versatile microbe bring a new virus to the town of Buxton on the Outer Banks of North Carolina; the virus does its work of taking over bodies, while Buxton residents such as a disillusioned environmentalist, a young single mother, and a shy priest come face to face with their fear of death and their need for each other.