March 02, 2012

Writer's Rainbow takes a break

I'll be heading back to school soon and need to tend to some projects before that happens. As a result, I'm limiting my blogging time to my personal blog at Rhymes with Camera and the companion blog to my novel series (The Ectosphere). I have some food writing, some short fiction and poetry also in the works as well as the final revisions on the first novel in the series. All this will take lots of time and focus, which means I'll need to step off the web for the time being.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support over the years and for your comments and encouragement along the way. I'm not sure what will happen with Writer's Rainbow in the long term but I know enough to know to never say never.

My efforts toward a downloadable book on platform development are also on hold until I have a better sense of my schedule over the next 15 months. I'll still be at work on my own creative writing projects, sneaking them in when I can, which is what I've been doing my whole life anyway, so please don't read the wrong message into this post: I'm still writing! It's what I've been doing for almost 45 years, so I don't expect the habit to die any time soon!

Parting words for now? Continue to write, keep the faith, create the work you most want to read, and keep reading, tracking the trends in publishing and interacting with each other.

With appreciation,

Tamara Kaye Sellman

March 01, 2012

Pacific Northwest Regional Writers' Calendar [Mar 1-31]

Note: The following calendar highlights literary events in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR) region. I choose these highlights based upon personal interests and the interests of my regular readers. I cannot hope to be all-inclusive for every appearance or reading or workshop in the region so I do apologize if I've left out your particular event. I also cannot be held responsible for cancelled or rescheduled events, as these occur far beyond my control. 

I'm excited to announce the upcoming Mar 9 reading of the anthology, Penumbra: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest, at Cup of Joy (Hansville, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public. If you're a reader of this blog, you already know that I'm a contributor to this anthology and also served as production editor and coordinator. It would be great to see you all there!

MARCH is National Novel Editing Month.

Mar 1
Liliana Ursu (A Path to the Sea) and Tess Gallagher (Midnight Lantern) give a reading in translation at Elliott Bay Books (Seattle, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 2
Tobias S. Buckell (Arctic Rising) reads from his new book at Powell's at Cedar Hills Crossing (Portland, OR) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 3
The Richard Hugo House (Seattle, WA) hosts a March Write-O-Rama from 10a to 5p. Register now (rates vary); this is a fundraiser, but it's also a great way to sample the great workshops the House offers to Puget Sound-area writers. 

Mar 4
Larry Karp (A Perilous Conception) reads from his new work at Murder by the Book (Portland, OR) at 4p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 5
Anthony Doerr (Memory Wall) headlines the Hallie Ford Literary Series at Willamette University (Salem, OR) at 730p in the Hatfield Room. This event is free and open to the public.

Mar 7
Local science writer Brian Christian (The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means To Be Alive) will give the presentation, "Humans v. Computers" at Town Hall Seattle (Seattle, WA) for the University Bookstore. Tickets are $5.

Mar 8
Erik Korhel (EDK Distribution) will discuss "Independent Publishing and Distribution Today" at Village Books (Bellingham, WA) at 630p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 9
Maxine Hong Kingston (I Like a Broad Margin To My Life) reads from her new book at Powell's on Burnside (Portland, OR) at 730p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 10
A Book For All Seasons (Leavenworth, WA) celebrates its 20th anniversary with a party that includes multi-author readings by Matt Ruff, Kiki Hamilton, Robert Anderson, Sean Salazar and Joseph Vizzard from 1 to 3p. Party includes surprises and refreshments and is free and open to the public.

Mar 11
Jean Davies Okimoto (Walter's Muse) reads from her novel at Eagle Harbor Books (Bainbridge Island, WA) at 3p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 12
Powell's on Burnside (Portland, OR) hosts the fifth annual Smallpressapalooza at 6p. Featured authors include Daniel Libman, Diana Salier and Lisa WellsEvent is free and open to the public. 

Mar 14
Jeanette Winterson (Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal) reads from her memoir at the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library (Seattle, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 15
Jane Alynn (Necessity of Flight) and Connie Walle (Not for Childrenheadline the SoulFood Poetry Night at Soul Food Books (Redmond, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public; open mic follows.

Mar 16-18
David Biespiel (Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces) leads the Attic Institute's 2nd Annual Creative Renewal Weekend at the Historic Balch Hotel (Dufur, OR). Registration fee is $165, which includes a signed copy of Biespiel's Book. Registration here. Note: Lodging and meals are separate. 

Mar 17
The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) sponsors its first new nonfiction writers group at King's Books (Tacoma, WA). This critique group, open to all writers, especially encourages nonfiction writers of history, politics, economics, biography or family history. Coffee and donuts provided! Class size is limited, so pre-register here.

Mar 18
Kathleen Flenniken (Plume) reads from her new book at Open Books (Seattle, WA) at 3p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 19
Ellen Ullman (By Blood) reads from her work at 730p at Powell's Books on Burnside (Portland, OR). Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 20
John Marshall presents "Reflections from the Seattle P-I Book Beat" for the Field's End Writers Roundtable at the Bainbridge Public Library (Bainbridge Island, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 21
Poet Cathy Ross headlines for WAPoetsWest@ The Creekside (Woodinville, WA) at 7p. Open mic follows. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 22
Cheryl Strayed (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail) reads from her book at Elliott Bay Books (Seattle, WA) at 7p. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 24-25
The Oregon Writers Colony sponsors the 2-day workshop, "The New Publishing World: Everything You Need To Know From E to Z," at the Portland Airport Sheraton (Portland, OR) at 9am. The event costs $185 and included lunch for both days. Registration and more information

Mar 27
Kevin O'Brien (Terrified)  signs his new book at Seattle Mystery Bookshop (Seattle, WA) at noon. Event is free and open to the public.

Mar 28-30
Rosie Lazzeri leads a 2-hour creative writing class at Aquarius Books (Grant's Pass, OR) at 1p. Workshop fee is $60; call bookstore to reserve your space: 541.479.4000

Mar 30
Anne Lamott (Some Assembly Required) will read from her book at the Baghdad Theater (Portland, OR) at 7p. Tickets are $26.95 and include a copy of her book. 

February 29, 2012

[African-American History Month] Four short story writers to round up the month

Short story writer Dorothy West
February is National African-American History Month. Writer's Rainbow will be posting a weekly citation of individuals who helped to put African-American literature on the map. This year's theme, chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, is "Black Women in American Culture and History." Writer's Rainbow joins in celebrating those African American women who helped to shape our nation's rich multicultural identity and to remind us all to study and reflect on the value of their contributions to American history. Thus, my citations will lean toward women's voices in literature. Writers are listed in alphabetical order.

  • Born in New York, NY (1939 - 1995)  
  • Best known for her anthology, The Black Woman (1970) which featured poetry, short stories, and essays by Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Paule Marshall and herself, as well as work by Bambara's students. It was the first feminist collection to focus on African-American women.  
  • Short story collections:
    • Gorilla, My Love (1977) 
    • The Sea Birds Are Still Alive: Collected Stories (1977)
What critics say about Bambara: "Bambara presents situations that build like improvisations on a melody... As drawn with spirit and subtlety. [Her characters] areeven in their defeatsa pleasure to watch."Newsweek

  • Born in Cleveland, OH (1858 - 1952)
  • Best known for his fiction exploring racial and social identity in the post-Civil War South, with a special focus on interracial relations. 
  • Short story collections:
    • Conjure Woman (1899)
    • The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line (1899)
What critics say about Chesnutt: "Chesnutt is credited with being the first author to develop African American characters in stories and novels of literary worth, through the use of authentic speech and folklore."  Library Journal 

  • Born in Columbia, SC (1956 -     )
  • Best known for his love affair with the American West, his willingness to experiment with themes and his sense of humor. 
  • Short story collections:
    • Damned if I Do: Stories (2004)
    • Weather and Women Treat Me Fair (1987)
    • Big Picture (1996)
What critics say about Everett: "It's hard to pigeonhole Percival Everett. Working between the traditions of the academy and the African American tall tale, he writes with a sharp satirical voice." Playboy

  • Born in Boston, MA (1907 - 1998)
  • Best known for her novel, The Living Is Easy, about the life of an upper-class black family. West was the last surviving member of the Harlem Renaissance until she died in 1998. 
  • Short story collection:
    • The Richer, the Poorer (1996)
What critics say about West: "Drawing on a career spanning almost 70 years, [The Richer, The Poorer] provides an overview of the work of one of the enduring figures of the Harlem Renaissance." Publishers Weekly

February 27, 2012

[guest post] Marva Dasef and friends on promos and tours for writers

of the Witches of Galdorheim 
Series, by Marva Dasef. 
Shipwrecked on a legendary 
island, how can a witch rescue 
her boyfriend if she can’t even 
phone home? 

I just went through a 16-day book tour for my latest release. The second book in a series isn’t an easy sell, so I made an effort to combine concepts from both books into each guest post. Of course, there’s a ton of crossover between book one, Bad Spelling, and book two, Midnight Oil. The main characters are the same and the world is well established. When it came to giveaways, I offered random commenters a choice between the two books. Many chose the first book. That tells me that this book tour may have attracted a new audience. Now that the lucky winners have book one, will they be moved to buy book two?

Every author’s first book presents the hurdle of name recognition. Subsequent books have a bit of history readers and bloggers recognize. I’d like to say it gets easier, and it does! On the other hand, as an author gains experience and builds a network of fellow author/bloggers, it can also become more complex. If you think rounding up sixteen bloggers willing to feature your new book is easy, then you have another thing coming.

I’ve invited some of my fellow authors to offer words of wisdom and advise to help newbie authors along the path of promotion. They’re all experienced and have learned many of the tricks and tips you might use when you’re ready to speed out of the publishing starting gate.


Now, let me introduce to you some authors with experience in the promotion process.

GUILTY KISSES by Killarney 
Sheffield. All proceeds from 
Guilty Kisses between Dec 15 
and Feb 15 went to the charity
Everyone has their own take on effective promotion and promotion dos and don'ts. I, being the out-of-the-box kinda gal I am, decided to try something a little different when it came to promoting my first historical romance release, Guilty Kisses. I am a very creative, artsy person and love music, so designing a book trailer was something I took to like a duck in water,and I figured: what better way to promo a book than by having someone famous's music in it, right?

It took some doing, but I managed to get famous 80s rock star/singer/songwriter/Juno winner Gowan to loan me one of his lovely acoustic ballads. No easy feat, let me tell you. The trailer garnered lots of notice, 300 hits in the first month, but has it helped me promo wise? Well, according to my book sales for Guilty Kisses, no.

However, according to my second release sales, maybe it did, just a little. The results aren't in yet after the third releases sales. So what can I tell you about promotions? Absolutely nothing but have fun promoting any way that fits your personality. Cross your fingers that it works!

MARION WEBB-DESISTO (additional link)
The Angelic Chronicles
by Marion Webb-Desisto
He's handsome, charismatic 
and a radiant celestial being, 
but he's rapidly becoming 
a dark soul.
I had a blog tour organized for me last year for one of my fantasy novels that had just been released. It was a 15-stop tour. Some went well, while others didn't. I did offer book giveaways and I think this does encourage readers to comment and follow the tour.

One of the main problems with this tour was dealing with the different time zones of the blogs.

Example 1: By the time the ones on the West coast of the US were being posted, it was late afternoon or evening for me here in the UK. At that time of the day, I'm usually busy with other things and spend little time online.

Example 2: There were a couple of stops in Australia and, by the time I was getting out of bed, it was nighttime down under. One of the blog owners had actually posted her next day's blog, so my interview was no longer prominent.

After this experience, I would suggest that whoever is organizing the tour should make each stop aware of which country the blog tour author lives in so that they can adjust their blog posting/interview to coincide with when the author is available to answer comments and questions.

I also had a couple of blog owners who completely forgot they were supposed to be interviewing me.

My overall suggestion for blog tours is this: If you, the author, are not doing the organizing yourself, make sure you use someone who is familiar with organizing such an event, a person who is reliable and efficient.

LYNN CRAIN (additional link) (email)
by Lynn Crain. Rachel 
Hamilton comes to Stonehenge 
to celebrate her birthday on 
Summer Solstice, only to find 
herself trapped beneath massive 
rhyolite bluestones with sexy 
wizard, Dewin Kingston, who 
convinces her that she is the 
key to their escape.
Organizing a blog tour can be a lot of work. New authors who have cultivated relationships with other authors or bloggers can request a spot on that blog. When doing those requests, an author should remember that not everyone will say yes, so it is good to send out about double the number of requests as blogs that you want. For example, you want to appear in 10 places, then ask 20 blogs. If all 20 say yes, and you are a new author, the added exposure will only help get your name and your book out there.

Should you find that you don’t have the time required to recruit prospective blog dates, you can go to a professional group to do it for you. There are lots of reputable places and all offer something different.

A few notable ones are Bewitching Book Tours, Sizzling PR and Coffee Beans & Love Scenes Promotion. All three of these companies offer great services at reasonable prices and have come highly recommended from a variety of authors.

Swag and giveaways are absolutely essential for any blog tour. While you don’t have to give something away at every blog, make sure that it is sufficient enough to make the viewers enter via your own blog or website or through comments via the blogs on your tour. Make sure you ask for an email address to contact the winners. eBooks are always good, but more and more authors are offering things like eBook readers. Whatever you offer, check with other authors to see what has worked for them on similar tours.

Blog tour successes are measured a few different ways. One is a notable increase in sales while another could be an increase in your newsletter membership. Whatever the outcome, make sure you have planned for it. For example, say you planned for 100 comments and you got 1000, or vice versa, you planned for 1000 and got a 100. You need to know what your cut-offs are for giving away or not giving away the prizes. Always include a disclaimer when doing giveaways because you do want to make it worth your time and effort. More is always better but, sometimes, readers just aren’t moved by your words. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you’ll need to try another tactic next time.

PENNY EHRENKRANZ (additional link)
Ehrenkranz. Lindsey Baker is 
intrigued by everything about the 
middle ages, but when she 
purchases an antique mirror and 
a costume to attend a Renaissance 
Faire, she suddenly finds herself 
transported back in time. There 
she finds she’s been called by a 
witch to right a terrible wrong.
I have never used a service to set up a blog tour. I have now done four different ones. The first was for my middle-grade novel, Ghost for Rent. The next was for a short story collection, A Past and A Future. The last two were for my romances, Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting and Mirror, Mirror. 

For each of these tours, my approach was slightly different. Since I didn't really know what I was doing with Ghost for Rent, I approached other authors I already knew who had blogs and asked them if they would review the book. I tried to target blogs associated with children's books or whose authors wrote for children. When I did my other tours, I already had a list of authors who were willing to blog about my books. This list was developed from authors I have spotlighted with interviews on my own blog.

Again, I contacted authors who specialized in the genre of the stories I was promoting. I sent an email introducing my book, asking for a guest spot, and letting the blogger know I'd be willing to do an interview, guest post or send an excerpt, whatever the blogger preferred. I asked for a spot during a specific two-week period of time and set the tour out a couple of months ahead to ensure spots on various blogs would be available. I kept a list of whom I contacted, the dates agreed upon and what was required.

At least two to three weeks prior to the post, I sent the necessary information to the blogger. I then scheduled tweets on Twitter and Facebook to inform my followers as to when I will appear at each blog. The day before the tour starts, I post on my own blog, giving the schedule of the tour. The day of the post, I stop by and thank the blogger early in the day. Then, periodically throughout the day, I will check to see if there are comments and answer each one.

I have offered giveaways during my tours. I did not offer anything for Ghost for Rent. For A Past and A Future, I offered a romantic science fiction short story, which was not included in the collection. For Love Delivery, I offered a short romance. For Lady in Waiting and Mirror, Mirror, which was a combined tour since they were released within a month of each other, I offered two prizes: one copy of Lady in Waiting and one of Mirror, Mirror. The last tour, I believe, had the most comments.

I'm not sure if that's because I offered a copy of the books I was promoting, or because my name is becoming more familiar, and I have more followers. Also, with the last tour, I posted on various Facebook groups to which I belong, which gave me more exposure.

At the end of each tour, I always thank the bloggers who hosted me.