Category: author events

A Report on MLA Annual

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. I was off at the annual Maine Library Association conference at Sunday River. This year we had a pre-conference as well, so it’s been a very busy weekend. Thankfully, it’s also been relatively stress-free, since we’ve got such a great conference committee running things. If you would have asked me six years ago, when I was just getting involved with MLA, if the time would ever come when running a conference for 185 people over three days wouldn’t have felt like that big of a deal, I would have said you were crazy. It was something entirely out of my realm of experience. And yet here we are, at the end of another very successful conference, and I’m now to the point where I’ve actually been going around volunteering to help organize other conferences.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

(Although really, it’s not that big of a deal when you break down what you need to do. Find a venue. Figure out how much it’ll cost to rent the rooms and pay for the food. Divide that cost among the number of people you expect will come. Be pessimistic. Figure out programming and keynotes. Promote it to death. No big deal, right?)

As I’ve done in the past, here’s a brief rundown on some of the things I did at this year’s conference:

  • Presented (to one extent or another) on four different panels. I was on one focused on library technology trends, one discussing the New Commons Project, one for Maine authors (as Bryce Moore), and then helped with one about Maine Academic Libraries. All of them went quite well. Good attendance, good exchange of information.
  • Competed in my first ever Battledecks challenge. If you haven’t heard of this before (I hadn’t), it’s essentially free-style powerpoint, done for humor. Someone makes up powerpoint presentations ahead of time (8 slides each), and then you get up and give a presentation around those slides, sight unseen. It ended up being hilarious and a ton of fun. 6 people competed, and they all did a fantastic job. (And apparently my finely honed ability to talk my way through and out of anything came in handy, as I took first place.)
  • Ate far too much food. Apple smoothies, oreo brownies, gourmet donuts, fancy pizza, french toast, pulled pork sandwiches, fruit, ginger carrot soup. The list goes on. As much as I say the event isn’t stressful, my weight says different. (But I’m going back on a diet for the rest of October. Not kidding!)
  • Saw a slew of friends. I’ve been active in the library community of Maine now for long enough that I forget just how many people I know. I really don’t think of myself as an extrovert, but when I know people already, I’m very comfortable going up and talking to them. And actually, as I thought over how the conference went and what all I did at it, I began to wonder if shoehorning myself into “Introvert” category isn’t really valid anymore. Don’t get me wrong. I still came home and wanted to just be by myself someplace quiet for the whole evening, but I can also excel in social situations, and it’s time I start acknowledging it.
  • Rarely breathed outside air. Conferences can also be pretty stifling. I think I got outside for all of . . . ten minutes over the three days? It was great to have a bit of a walk outside as I came into work today.
  • Heard some great keynotes. The first was on the way the press can navigate today’s “Fake News” minefield, and the second was on just how fast the world is changing these days. (If you’re trying to make long term plans based on how life was five or ten years ago, you’re setting yourself up for failure.)

Of course, when I come home from an event like that, I’ve missed a bunch of work by being away, and I’m also exhausted, so coming back into the grind is doubly difficult. But for this, it’s very much worth it. It’s a conference I’ve begun to look forward to more and more each year, and I’m very happy to see so many people feel the same way. (This year was our best attended since I’ve been involved in them!)

In any case, thanks to all who contributed, participated, and showed up. It was a great time, and I’m already excited for next year.

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Fiction Faculty at Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop

Great news today, folks. I’ve been asked to be on the faculty for this year’s Longfellow Young Writers’ Workshop at the University of Maine at Farmington. What’s that, you say? It’s a week-long writing camp for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. It’s here at the university where I work as library director, and I’m really excited to be able to branch out a bit and dip my toes back into the teaching of writing scene.

Back in the day, when I was at BYU, I completed all the requirements for a Masters of English in Creative Writing. Took all the coursework. Wrote the novel. (Two, actually). You name it. But because they don’t let you double major with a masters, I had to pick Masters of English in American Literature as the official “thing I got a degree in.” I loved going to creative writing classes, talking with other people about how to write and how to get better at the process of writing.

For years, I was also in a writing group, first in person, and then on Skype. I finally had to give it up as part of my Quest to Not Do As Much Stuff, but I still miss it. I hope this will be a way for me to get a bit of that fun back. Be around other writerly types and encourage young writers to keep honing their craft.

The workshop looks like a ton of fun. It goes from July 15th-21st. Here’s the description from their website:

The program, for continuing high school students (those entering their sophomore, junior or senior year), gives you a full week to immerse yourself in the writing world. You’ll work with published writers and students as serious about writing as you are.

Mornings will be spent meeting in small intensive workshops of no more than fifteen students, where you will engage in the art of poetry, fiction, screenwriting and creative nonfiction. Afternoons will be spent hearing craft talks from successful writers, visiting a poetry press, attending presentations, or relaxing with hiking, swimming or yoga. In the evening sit back and listen to writers read from their work. The week will end with students reading their own work at the final banquet.

Workshops are serious, yet supportive, and fun. The focus will be on new approaches to writing, ways of seeing your own writing and the writing of others in different ways, while continuing to maintain faith in your ability to write, and never losing sight of the joy and playfulness inherent in the act of writing. There are no wrong answers, but the faculty and other students can help you find ways to get across what you mean with more beauty, with greater force.

Writers will stay on UMF’s campus in shared rooms (you can pick your roomate if you want to). You’ll live on a floor with other people your age with the same interest in creative writing that you have. Senior-level college students, majoring in creative writing at UMF, will live with you in the dorms. They will be friendly and accessible, available to help you find your way around campus, or to give you advice on a piece of writing. Two Michael Macklin Scholarships for Young Maine Writers will be awarded to Maine Residents, the Ilgenfritz Scholarship provides one scholarship for a female student living in Waldo or Knox counties; these two fellowships are sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. We also offer several partial scholarships open to residents of any state or nation sponsored by the University of Maine, Farmington and the BFA program in Creative Writing.

There will also be opportunities for hikes in the mountains, yoga classes, swimming, and more. Plus you’ll have all the beauty of a summer week in Maine.

So if you, or someone you know, would be interested in this, drop me a line. Tuition and board is $800, although if you don’t stay on campus, that’s reduced to $535. Need and merit-based scholarships are available.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. I’m looking to get to $10/month to justify the amount of time I spend on this blog. I’m at $13/month so far. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! Read this post for more information. Or click here to go to Patreon and sign up. It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Sign Up for My Author Email List

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It occurred to me Friday that I really ought to have an author email list. An easy way for fans to sign up to get updates from me about my writing and my books. Yes, there’s this blog, and I keep it up to date, but it’s requires you to be an active participant. You have to go looking for my page to find out what I’ve been up to, and even once you’ve found it, it’s not like I write updates all the time. You’d have to sort through the posts to find the latest and greatest.

If you miss the post where I talk about my new book or a new release coming out, then it’s doubtful you’ll ever see it unless you really dig.

I’m active on social media, but in those cases, I’m at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithms. The big blue F has really upped its game when its come to trying to use it as a way to stay connected with fans. They’ll gladly let a few people see a post, and then remind you that you can pay more to have it be promoted. Thanks but not thanks, Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, is very hit or miss. You might get some good retweets of a post, but you’re once again at the mercy of the gods of luck to hope that your fans see a post.

I’m reminded of this fairly often, whenever I talk to a friend or family member and they’re surprised I have another book out, or that I have a new one coming next summer. For all the writing and posting I do online, I feel like I’m already pushy enough. And yet so many people still don’t hear about the latest and greatest.

That’s where the email list comes in. Sign up once, and be passively informed about everything I’m up to. It’ll be delivered straight to your email. No need for you to go hunting anywhere. I promise not to get spammy with things. No more than one post a month, and probably fewer than that. I want it to be so that when something comes out from me, people pay attention and actually read it. Know what I mean?

I should have started this a long time ago, but that’s no reason to not start it now. Just fill out the Google form below, and you’ll be signed up right away. Thanks for reading!

Book Signing Next Week!

Just wanted to make sure all you lovely people out there knew that I’ll be at Barnes & Noble next Saturday (the 17th) from 1-3pm in Augusta, signing pretty much anything you put in front of me. In fact, if you bring something particularly noteworthy or unusual for me to sign, I’ll bring some prizes to hand out. But you’ll have to say the magic phrase.

Of course, this means I need to come up with a magic phrase. Something no one’s going to guess . . .

We’ll make it so that it’s something longtime fans would know. Let’s go with “Watch out for teacups.”

So. You bring something strange to sign and tell me the magic phrase, and I’ll give you something cool in return. Sound like a deal?

See you there!

Want to Hear Me Read the Second Chapter of MEMORY THIEF?

A month or so ago I did a reading with The Other Stories, a podcast that has authors read from their books and then interviews them about their writing. I’m pleased to say it’s finally been posted on their site, and you can hear it here.

I read the second chapter of the book. It was done over Skype, so the microphone isn’t the best, but it’s not too painful on the ears, I hope. 36 minutes in all, with half of it being the reading and the other half me talking about where the book came from, what inspired it, etc.

This is handy, since I didn’t have my own podcast to  post this week. It’s almost like I planned it!

Anyway. Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

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