Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Selling Hope & the Wednesday Writers

Three years ago, something wonderful happened. I got stuck in line. Actually I was stuck in line for the ladies’ restroom at a writers’ conference (a common occurrence). I spoke to the woman in front of me and told her I was new to the Nashville area. Her name was Jennifer Lambe. I asked if she might be interested in getting together for coffee and maybe a little manuscript critiquing. She said yes! When we returned to the auditorium, she introduced me to another writer, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb. Kristin said she would be interested in the coffee and the manuscript critiques, too. I met another writer, Hannah Dills, at an RWA chapter meeting and she wasn’t interested in coffee, but she was definitely interested in manuscript critiques. So the Wednesday Writers started meeting for coffee (and tea) and we started critiquing manuscripts.

One of the first manuscripts we critiqued is in bookstores today! It’s Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb. Here’s the blurb:

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe. Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?

Congratulations Kristin!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SCBWI Midsouth Conference Blog

I'm blogging with the SCBWI-Midsouth Conference blog team this weekend. Check it out here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Skip a Starbucks Day for Johanna Faith

I love writing. I enjoy attending writers’ conferences and groups to study the craft of writing. And I like the free book giveaways, too. But the biggest blessing of my writing journey is the friends I’ve made. One of those friends is C.J. Redwine. Today on the blog I’m asking you to join me in helping C.J. bring her adopted daughter home from China. To read more about the Redwine’s adoption story and to help bring Johannah Faith home, please click here today through Wednesday, August 25.

Please leave a comment on this blog before clicking through to donate at C.J.’s site and one of you will win a Percy Jackson Prize Pack! This includes Percy Jackson and the Olympians 3 Volume Boxed Set (paperback edition) and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief DVD.

Thank you for participating.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

RWA Conference

The 30th annual Romance Writers of America conference starts tomorrow in Orlando, Florida. I’ll be there along with 2,000 other romance writers. I look forward to the workshops, seeing old friends, and meeting some new ones in the Young Adult RWA chapter.

I’ll post more info here later. You can also follow along on my twitter feed here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Long Players: The Music Version of Fan Fiction

Fan fiction is a story written by a fan about favorite characters created by someone else. Some of the most popular fan fiction on the web expands on the worlds of Harry Potter and Star Trek. I have heard editors at writers’ conferences say they have found authors through fan fiction sites, loved their writing and signed them. But I think most fan fiction writers do it because they love the original characters and want to spend more time with them.

There is a band in Nashville that does something I consider to be a form of fan fiction for the classic rock album. But The Long Players are not newbies starting out. They are extremely talented, successful Nashville musicians who love classic rock. They perform one album (Long Play album) on a semi-monthly basis start to finish, with rotating vocalists stepping up to the mike. At a show, you can hear famous musicians and some you’ve never heard of, but they’re all fantastic.

Last night, I attended The Long Player’s 40th show where they played U2’s The Joshua Tree album, one of my favorites so far. For history and videos of past shows and info on upcoming dates, visit their site here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Percy & The Parthenon

I recently finished reading the last book in the Percy Jackson series. I loved this series from book one as I mentioned in an earlier blog. Nashville’s Parthenon was featured in a scene in the Percy Jackson movie, The Lightning Thief (but not in the book).

I hear that the Parthenon’s tourist traffic has increased due to this moment in the spotlight. I visited the Parthenon recently and want to share some fun facts and photos here.

The Parthenon sits in Nashville’s Centennial Park. It is a full-scale replica of the ancient temple of Athena in Athens, Greece that was destroyed in 1687. Nashville’s Parthenon was built in 1897 for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The building housed an art exhibition that was shown four years before at the Chicago World’s Fair. The Parthenon was built of temporary materials so unfortunately the building began to deteriorate. It was rebuilt in 1920 and opened to the public in 1931.

The ancient Parthenon was converted to a Christian church in the 6th century A.D. and many of the figures representing gods and goddesses were removed. No one knows for sure how many figures were on the original Parthenon. Figures in the Nashville Parthenon are casts made from the original sculpture fragments of the ancient Parthenon. Those sculpture fragments are located in the British museum.

The Parthenon houses a full-scale replica of Athena standing 41 feet 10 inches tall. Work began on the statue in 1982 and it was unveiled in 1990.

For more info on the Parthenon’s hours and its history, visit the site.

Photos by: John A. Parker

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live from Nashville

Last night I took the family to Music City Roots, a live radio show broadcast weekly from the Loveless Barn. A trip to see and hear Music City Roots live and in person involves some of my favorite things, live music and driving on the Natchez Trace Parkway for a bit (the Loveless Barn is located just off the northern edge of the parkway). We also threw in dinner at the Loveless Café, a Parker ritual after a trip on the Trace.

Last night’s performers were:

Ray Wylie Hubbard

Jessica Stiles

Dana Cooper

Two Man Gentleman Band

Jim Lauderdale

Music City Roots is broadcast on WSM 650 AM, the same station that is home to the weekly Grand Ole Opry radio show. Music City Roots is in its first year of life and I have heard it referred to as the Baby Opry. At $10 for grown-ups and $5 for students, you can’t beat this value for live roots music.

If you are not in the Nashville area, you can listen to Music City Roots each Wednesday at 7:00 pm CST online.

I plan to go to another show, hear more music, and buy the t-shirt.

Friday, March 5, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference Report

Hannah Dills and I report on the SCBWI Winter Conference in the current issue of BorderLines, SCBWI-Midsouth’s regional newsletter. Click here for the best quotes and pieces of advice from agents and editors.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Game Day Stories from New Orleans

In a house full of lifelong New Orleans Saints fans, last Sunday was a pretty exciting day. Like many members of the Who Dat Nation scattered all over the country, we wished we were in New Orleans when the final seconds of the clock ticked down Sunday night. To celebrate vicariously through my New Orleans friends, I asked two ladies to share their stories here. Many thanks to Alyson Smith (school teacher extraordinaire) and Evelyn Cathey (owner of Creations Galore).

Welcome Alyson! Where did you watch the game?

I watched the game in my home with the family - Donna Johnson spent the weekend with us and was here, too.

What did you do after the game?

Donna and I watched a few minutes of the postgame show then went as quickly as possible to Gretna to Academy Sports and Outdoors. Our neighborhood was lively - fireworks, airhorns, people in the streets hugging and dancing around - but it was nothing compared to Carol Sue Blvd. When we turned onto Carol Sue, there appeared to be a crowd waiting for a parade. The closer we got to the crowd, we saw they were not only on the sides of the road - they were IN the road. WE were the parade. Donna and I did as the cars ahead of us and rolled down the window, honked the horn, and slapped "five" to the revelers in the streets. It was unbelievable.

We made it to Academy to find the parking lot quite full. We parked near the Casey Jones grocery store and got in line. After about an hour in line, we made it to the corner of the building. When we made the left turn to what we thought would be a short line to an open door, we found a queue line instead. It was like being in line for Space Mountain at Disney World.

The parking lot, however, was a mini-parade in itself and quite entertaining. Young and old alike were in their cars with music blaring (mostly "Stand up and get Crunk"). It was a fantastic sight! I can't adequately describe the euphoria of the crowd. "I can't believe it!" We finally did it!" and more "Who Dat" that you can imagine. I've only been a New Orleanian with Saints Fever for nine years; seeing these lifelong fans living a dream is almost indescribable. It was enough to make you forget about the extremely cold temperatures that were causing frostbite in your toes.

What is your favorite memory of this week?

My favorite memory will be the Super Bowl Parade on Tuseday, February 9th. Several friends from school all packed up after an early dismissal and rode the Algiers ferry over to the East Bank. We chose a spot on Convention Center Blvd. across from the Hilton. It wasn't crowded at all, so our whole gang took up the curb space on the corner of the Harrah's parking garage. After a 5:00 start, the parade finally reached us about 7:00. We were so close to the players, it was unreal. Even though we were very near the end of the route, the team seemed to be eager and fresh. They were still throwing beads and signing autographs. Drew Brees' float stopped in front of us for a full five minutes. It was awesome!

The kids at school have also been in a frenzy all week. I've managed to pull lessons from the newspaper, internet, and even from the pictures I took at the parade, etc. just to keep kids' interest and keep them working this week.

My family thinks I'm crazy to have been out until midnight just to get T-shirts and to enjoy a parade, but I can't imagine being any place else. The Saints may win more Super Bowls, but there will never be another first one. I sure wish you could've been here!

Me too, Alyson. It sounds crazy and wonderful!

Welcome Evelyn! Where did you watch the game?
My husband, Sonny, and I watched the game at the American Stage Theater at the WWII Museum. It was an experience since the projection TV was the size of the stage, more than lifelike. We had a tasty meal at John Besh's Restaurant and Bar located inside the museum.
What did you do after the game?
We left hurriedly on foot with the throngs of others with our destination Bourbon Street in mind. We found a taxi, jumped in for a quick ride to Rampart. We worked out way to Bourbon via Conti, with a short stop at the Bombay Club, one of my old haunts. Said hello to some friends and off to Bourbon, so we thought. The crowd was backing towards us on Conti, but we finally made it into the crowds of happy, tearful, gleaming Who Dat fans! Joy was everywhere. Beads were flying from balconies, folks singing, cheering the Who Dat chant everywhere. The Quarter was a wonderful, friendly, Who Dat sea of folks just trying to absorb that we were really World Champs!!
What is your favorite memory of this week?
As for my favorite memory, there were so many...the Saints winning, sharing the win with friends and those I did not know. The Quarter is a unique melting pot and I will always remember being there when the Saints became World Champs!
It sounds amazing, Evelyn. Thanks for sharing your story!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SCBWI Winter Conference Blog

The SCBWI Winter Conference takes place in New York City next week. I will be attending for the first time! The official conference blog is online now with interviews with conference speakers and tips for newbie conference goers. Anyone interested in writing or illustrating books for children can follow the blog while the conference in underway to keep up with each day’s events. Click here for the Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

I had the great experience of being on the blog team for the SCBWI-Midsouth 2009 Blog. I know the conference blog is a time consuming project, but one that is greatly appreciated by conference attendees and SCBWI members who cannot attend the conference. So many thanks to the SCBWI Blog Team for taking the time to provide this great information.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Books Before Movies (I heart Percy Jackson)

I want to know why no one told me about the Percy Jackson books before now. Oh wait. They did. I’m just slow on the uptake sometimes. My daughter is a big Percy Jackson fan. She has talked about the books so much at the dinner table that my son and I were both convinced we must read the books or die. Well almost. Earlier this week, I went to my local bookstore and bought a box set of the first three Percy Jackson books. It’s finally my turn to read book one, The Lightning Thief. (My son is a fast reader.) After reading chapter one of book one, one word: Wow! It was possibly the best first chapter I have ever read. Amazing. I’m a few chapters in now and I want more.

I’m glad that Percy Jackson & The Olympians is coming to a theatre near us on President’s Day. I might not have been compelled to read the book now if the movie release were not a few weeks away. As I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post, I’m a books-before-movies reader. I also read the first Harry Potter book before seeing the first movie. I was hooked.

Are you a books-before-movies reader? Have you ever heard other people talking nonstop about a book, thought they must be exaggerating, finally gave in to read the book and got hooked yourself?