Tuesday, June 30, 2009

upcoming interviews, reviews, and contest

In my last post, I mentioned a few exciting things coming this way and I am pleased to announce there are some really great interviews and reviews on the horizon.

This Thursday, July 2nd, I’ll be hosting an interview with fantasy author Lorna Suzuki. She’ll be chatting about her Imago series as well as her debut YA novel. Author Melissa Senate will also be sharing news about her latest book, The Secret of Joy, in an upcoming interview. Zoe Winters, author of Kept, will also be making an appearance soon.

In addition to this, I have a few book reviews coming up including Twitterville by Shel Israel and Absolute Knowledge: Stories by Ian Randall Wilson. Check back for updates on more forthcoming reviews and interviews. If you are interested in sharing your latest release with readers of this blog, please email me for more info.

I look forward to including new features with you on this blog. One of the things I enjoy is passing along great finds I’ve come across on other blogs and in news articles. This week, I found an interesting blog post by Mike Shatzkin about how the role of an agent adapts along with the changing landscape in publishing. He raises some interesting points. Another blog by Helen Ginger talks about how writers can try to overcome roadblocks. Helen gives some great tips on making the best of a blocked situation, so if you’ve ever cornered yourself while writing, be sure to read her post.

In my own writing world, I am pleased to report having mailed out a number of submissions to periodicals this week. I feel wildly productive as of late and it’s so great to share my progress and process with readers of this blog. One thing I am excited (and slightly anxious!) about is my voluntary participation in a writing challenge. YA Edge, a highly recommended blog about writing for teens, is hosting the ‘1K-a-day’ challenge. I’ve signed on as a participant for one of my YA works-in-progress, and have thus committed myself to a month of fun, frenzy, and following others in their path to completion. Wish me luck!

Don’t forget to enter the contest! At the end of September, I’ll be randomly drawing a name from the list of those following this blog. If you haven’t yet clicked to ‘follow this blog’ do so over on the right side panel to enter for your chance to win a signed copy of one of my titles. Best of luck to all.

Be sure to come back on Thursday for my interview with Lorna Suzuki. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

e-connecting with the world

I’ve never considered myself slow to adapt to technology, but with the speed of e-evolution it’s admittedly difficult, at times, to keep up with the latest wave. As an author, I aim to keep connected to readers and industry news and discussions, but things change so quickly, a writer really has to be on her toes.

When my first book, The Profiler, was released in 2005 this wasn’t so hard. At the time – and it seems so archaic now – most of my online socializing comprised of emails, posting in online community discussions, and occasionally being a part of a chatroom discussion or IM. Now, 2005 wasn’t that long ago and using those mediums to communicate with readers and editors was a very valuable resource. Undoubtedly I met and established relationships with several great people. The times, though, they are a changing.

Since my first book debuted, there has been an avalanche of social networks that have debuted and succeeded (some more so than others) and changed the way authors interact online. Facebook opened its doors to the public sphere in 2006 and gradually authors gravitated toward that phenomenon. Now, though, a writer can interact with others through networks such as myspace, twitter, personal and industry blogs, you name it. There are a great many social networks out there and an author really has to pick and choose to truly make a connection. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming to try to keep up with absolutely everything, all the time.

The other day I mentioned a blog post I read by author Allison Winn Scotch, who argued all the right reasons why a writer should use twitter. That was barely more than a week ago but since then I have become convinced. Over and over I hear from authors, agents, editors, and readers how great twitter is and how valuable it is to them in staying connected. After following a few tweets, as they say, I finally caved. I now have a twitter account and, my goodness, it’s brilliant.

It’s super user friendly, not time consuming (unless you want it to be), and it’s a lightning fast way to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of books. Of course, people use twitter to chat about any number of topics but I have set myself limits to focus on book discussions, primarily. Each day, I am greeted with a number of industry news, book releases, author event announcements, and so forth and I am thus far finding it quite useful. I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to find me on twitter @ loriamay.

In addition to blogging and twittering, I try to post on online discussions about books and publishing news. Also, I’ve joined reader discussions on goodreads.com and also have a shelf over at shelfari. This allows me to keep in tune with what others are reading while talking about books and authors I love to read. These groups are a great way to learn about new titles and hot trends, and –most importantly – it’s a great way to meet and interact with others who have similar tastes.

Now, all of this is 100% more than I used to do online, going back to The Profiler days. But times change. Technology changes. And if I can’t keep up with where people meet to talk about books, I risk falling behind. It’s important for an author to have a connection with others. It doesn’t have to be a full-time commitment, but one should dress up and go to the party from time to time.

For this blog, I’m hoping to include some additional perks I hope you’ll enjoy. Occasionally, I will provide an interview with an author, agent, or other booklover. I hope that will be a nice complement to the reviews and other news I share on here. If you know of any authors, agents, editors, booksellers, or other interested parties, send them my way so we can chat about setting up a blog interview date.

By the way, this week I updated my website with new content: past interviews with authors such as Melissa Senate, Cathy Yardley, and Suzanne North. More white space was added to improve readability and I’ve increased the overall content. Check it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Also, I just sent out the quarterly LoriAMay.com newsletter. If you haven't yet subscribed, check the most recent one here and sign-up today for occasional e-blast.

I’m signing off with a new contest! In September I’ll be giving away a signed copy of one of my books to a randomly selected “follower” of this blog. Follow this blog by clicking on the link in the right-hand panel and you could be the lucky winner!

Don't forget to let me know how you, as an author or reader, like to stay connected online.

Monday, June 22, 2009

white hot covers

I’m happy to report it’s been a productive week. I’m knee-deep in editing stains, my upcoming poetry release (more details below), and working on two works-in-progress of the suspenseful kind. Despite relegating to a cave for writing tasks, I had the pleasure of attending two incredible poetry readings last week. One was Poets Follies, hosted by Marick Press at the Grosse Pointe Library. It was fantastic and eclectic, with poetics about everything from tumors to reincarnation, from remote islands to French translations. The other event was at Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale MI and I had the pleasure of sharing a few poems with the audience, while John Jeffire rocked the house. Again.

Recently, I read a motivating article in the June issue of The Writer. Author and writing instructor Richard Goodman writes about his experience in finding his path to writing. Richard’s article really touched me, as he spoke of the pressure writers put on themselves to publish at a young age. I’ve often felt like there has to be a certain level of publishing achievement relevant to my age, but it’s a voice I have also learned to hush. Age is but a number. It’s common for a writer to feel that they have to get their books out there when they’re young, that it’s a ‘young’ industry, and Richard exemplifies why this is not the case. He didn’t write his first book until the age of 46, though the art of storytelling was always within him. His time came to write and publish French Dirt and since then, he has been living an inspiring, fruitful, and literary life. He is an inspiration to all writers, no matter what age, and is living proof that age is nothing but a number. If you have a chance to pick up a copy of The Writer’s June issue, do so. The article is a great piece of inspiration for emerging (and established) authors and I urge you to visit his website to read more of Richard’s work. He’s also published a book on creative writing called The Soul of Creative Writing that Molly Peacock has said “…will instruct, delight, edify, challenge, reassure, and guide any student of writing to a personal best." Visit Richard Goodman's website for more info on this delightful author.

In other book news, I was reading the Sunday Book Review of The New York Times and came across a review I missed earlier. In her review of A Short History of Women, a new novel by Kate Walbert, writer Leah Hager Cohen says, “… each chapter is like a slice of exquisite cake.” This collection of short stories calls upon historic women and moments in time and promises to be an engaging and moving read.

I was also hanging out at IndieBound.org and noticed this eye-catching cover. It’s Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life By David Foster Wallace and is from a 2005 speech he gave at Kenyon College. Now, the cover alone makes me want to get this but I am ever so curious as to reading words of wisdom and reflection on life from this author.

And since we seem to be appreciating book covers with white covers for some reason, I’d love to hear feedback on this cover. stains: early poems by Lori A. May (that’s me) will be released this autumn. What are your thoughts on the cover? Do you love it, hate it, shrug indifference? You can get a better look here, on my website. stains has been in the making for years now, and hence is an “early collection.” It was originally scheduled to be released about five years ago, but fate called for a later date. At any rate, I am looking forward to launching it and will keep you posted on the exact release date, public readings and launch party as the time approaches.

Okay, I have to mention one more white hot cover (or three). Laura Caldwell, a Chicago-based writer whose career is soaring, has just released Red Hot Lies as part of this amazing series with equally amazing covers. Seriously, aren’t these covers killer? No pub intended.

Years ago, when I was doing a lot of freelance reviews and interviews, I interviewed Laura (I think in 2002?) for her book Burning The Map. Since her humble beginnings she has written several bestsellers and I just love her voice. She has such great pacing and characterization too. I can’t wait to pick these up and offer my reviews. By the way, Laura blogs at The Outfit Collective but be sure to also check out her website for upcoming events, releases, and general info.

In the not-so-distant future I’ll be sending out my next newsletter packed with news, contests, and more. If you haven’t yet subscribed, sign up today for the irregular e-blast and view the most recent newsletter here.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

northern exposure: a writer's retreat

I just came back from a self-imposed retreat. Exploring Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, I visited the incredibly beautiful towns of Petoskey, Traverse City, Harbor Springs, and of course Mackinaw City and the indescribable Mackinac Island. For four days I had nothing but a notebook, camera, and open mind to encourage me to absorb the natural settings, interact with the locals, and inspire the creative juices within. It worked. Coming home, I had an energy within me for creating new works, researching new material, and living off the rejuvenation such a weekend can provide.

While away, I made sure to visit all the independent booksellers I came across. What a treasure I found! On Mackinac Island and in Mackinaw City, The Island Bookstore offered an abundance of local and regional authors to discover. Here, locals and visitors can take part in the many author events in-store, such as the past weekend’s “Great Summer Read Presentation” from Random House or the upcoming signing with author Vince Carroll. Another great stop was at McLean & Eakin, in Petoskey MI. Talk about variety and secret finds! M&E has an entire display of signed copies – books signed by authors during past visits. I had a hard time controlling myself, I’ll admit. But it just shows how many author events they do at this great bookshop. With two floors of shelving and a staff that can talk your ear off (in a good way), this is a booklover’s paradise. I feel lucky to have had the chance to meet some independent booksellers and learn their hot picks for the summer. What an incredible weekend.

When I came home, I had some very nice news. I have a new poem in the summer issue of Willows Wept Review, and this November I’ll have poetry featured in Two Review, published in Anchorage AK. I also just found out I received an honorable mention from The University of Western Ontario for the Marie Smibert Writing Program Achievement Awards. Really, there is nothing like coming home to mail like this. I should go away for the weekend more often!

Now that I have been catching up on e-news since my return, I see there are some interesting discussions that caught my eye. One is a great article by Louis Menand of The New Yorker who asks, “Should creative writing be taught?” This is an intriguing relation of how creative writing programs have developed over the years and how the ‘industry’ has reacted in various ways. Like many of the quoted people in the article, I believe this question will never have a final answer. My favorite part of this article, however, is the lead photograph of Robert Frost and peers prior to the dawn of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Another great piece I came across is a blog post from author Allison Winn Scotch who discusses why all authors should be on twitter. While I have returned to the blog world and believe social networking sites can be beneficial to writers, I have not yet found it in me to join the twitter movement. However, there are some really great tweets out there I do read. One is an incredibly cool project from the poets at The Scarab Club. With rolling contributions, it’s neat to see how this poem in motion is translating.

And speaking of poetry, now that I have settled down from my weekend retreat it’s time to get ink-deep into turning inspiration into fruition. I look forward reviewing the notes and poems I began on my trip and discovering where they will take me…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

LitFest @ The Scarab Club

Last weekend The Scarab Club hosted LitFest 2009 as part of the Midsummer Nights in Motown festivities. What an incredible event. While 2008 National Book Award winner Mark Doty was the main attraction of the day, there was a very tempting book sale in the garden where I managed to pick up two armfuls of books from Wayne State Press. I can’t wait to read Bonnie Jo Campbell’s American Salvage and Andy Mozina’s The Women Were Leaving the Men. Marick Press was there, too, and I picked up a copy of Emily Ate the Wind by Peter Conners. I also snagged a signed copy of Exiliana by Mariela Griffor. My to-be-read pile never looked so tempting.

There were so many wonderful, eclectic readers throughout the day. The event started around noon and I finally left around midnight, as the cleaning crew set to their task. My thanks go out to Tonja Bagwell for offering me the mic to share some poetry and an excerpt from The Profiler. It was a pleasure.

Of course, Mark Doty was as entertaining as could be expected. He has such presence when reading, as though a best friend relating a story only the two of you could understand. But that’s the thing – his poems translate to everyone; no matter who you are, his poems resonate and penetrate the human soul. His pacing is divine, his comedic marks are never off, and when he completes the last line of the poem, you know you’ve heard something real. Something true.

I’m thankful to the muses for being kind to me lately. This year has presented itself with a sweet bounty of words dripping like literary nectar. My fingers have been frantic at the keyboard as of late and I am genuinely feeling that sense of… peace. Joy within the craft. It’s not always that way and one can never tell what sort of day the writing will bring. But for now, thankfully, the pen has been mighty.

Perhaps it is because I am making a deliberate effort to engage in community literary events more so than ever before. Perhaps this participation in seeing, hearing, and feeling other people at work is what is causing such an inspiration. At any rate, I have attended some exceptional readings lately and have many more coming up on the calendar. If this is what inspires, then the reward is two-fold.