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Hoisting a glass of Guinness with Stan in County Cork…

Day 23 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks participants to describe a fictional/fantasy encounter with their favorite character from their novel. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 23 writing prompt:

If you could meet one of your main characters or ideal reader anywhere in the world for coffee, drinks, dinner, or a caramel (tipping my hat to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting), who would it be, where would you meet them, and why?

Stan in Ireland

I love the idea of this – having coffee or dinner with my main character. Stanford Crowley is based on a real person and, admittedly, for the first little while, I would think of my personal friend when I pictured Stan. However, Stan is a FICTIONAL character, and before long, he became his own person. He may be modeled on my friend, and when I wonder what Stan might do in a particular circumstance, I sometimes think about what my friend would likely do in the same situation, but he’s developed his own thoughts and behaviors and personality quirks.

The character of Paula is less of a mystery because she is very much based on me – so she wouldn’t be at all interesting for me to meet. Gretchen is based on no one in particular, but she behaves like every horrible vixen/villainess/antiheroine that you’ve ever encountered in a TV drama or romantic comedy, and I’d have no desire to ever chat one-on-one with her. I love some of the tertiary characters – more plot devices than people – but they are deliberately unidimensional, so they probably wouldn’t be that interesting to talk with, at least as written.

So Stan it is.

Would he be interesting? Probably not so much, at first. But there would be Irish pubsomething charming about his stuck-in-his-ways way. He’d be kind and smart and a good conversationalist. He’d be a gentleman and inquire about me and my interests. He’d enjoy organic beer if we were meeting someplace like Scottsdale. But my preference would be an actual Irish pub near Blarney Castle where I’d force myself to choke down a Guinness with my fish and chips. He’d eat Irish stew and pass on the bread. We’d sit outside on a balmy summer evening because this is my fantasy, and it would not be raining. Not all that farfetched in my book, as the only time I was in Ireland, I had five days of perfect weather without a single raindrop in sight.

We’d compare notes about our time in the Tri-State Area. I’d tell him about my first visit tonotel motel Tonnelle Avenue in Jersey City. I was brand new to the city and had no idea it was one of the seediest streets in the area. My boyfriend was in town for one night and we wanted to stay in a motel instead of at my sister’s apartment. When he went to check in, the clerk’s response was, “You want to stay the WHOLE night?” Years later, I wound up living two blocks east of that exact area of Tonnelle Avenue in a quaint neighborhood filled with four-family walk-ups.

He’d tell me about his fight with Paula, how Gretchen had betrayed him, and how he felt he’d let down his sister Kerrie. He’d show me a picture of his Jack Russell terrier, Isis – if she wasn’t with us snoozing quietly under the table. We’d talk into the wee hours, decide it was time to move on, make one last toast, and then each head off to our respective B&Bs. It would be one of those magical, momentary encounters that stays with you for a lifetime. And later, snuggled back in my bed in Phoenix, I’d wonder if it had been real of if I had just imagined the whole thing.

Please be sure to check in again tomorrow, when I’ll lay out the plans for my first book signing…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to meeting all kinds of wonderful characters in your waking life!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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SUNDAY INSPIRATIONS: Understanding reality…

Sunday Inspirations. Send us your favorite quote, image, poem, idea … anything that has been helpful or inspirational to your writing process. If we love it, we may use it as is, or take the inspiration and modify it in some way. Give us a link to your website or blog and we’ll be sure to give you credit! Email inspiration@writemarketdesign.com or post your suggestion in the comment section below!

Here’s today’s inspiration: “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It is a way of understanding it.”

Lloyd Alexander quote

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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We’re one month into 2015 — are  you READY? If you haven’t yet 2015 Goalsmapped out your book marketing efforts for the New Year, it’s time to get started! Sit down with Laura – in person or via Skype – and review your book marketing plan. We’ll evaluate: what’s working, what isn’t working, and which new strategies you may want to implement for the new year (or your newest book). Regularly $150 for a 45-minute session. Marcie Brock special: $99 for the first five who respond. mktg@WriteMarketDesign.com

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Middle school students inspire fantasy author – guest post from Dan Trumpis

Fairies, gremlins, magic, monsters, and mayhem. If you’re a fiction fan, you’ll want to be with us TOMORROW, as the inaugural Summer Author Event takes place at the Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004). More than 30 local authors will come together in one place for a fantastic book signing/meet-and-greet event that promises to delight every sort of book lover. Genres range from all manner of fiction to spiritual works, children’s books, business books, personal development books, and everything in between. Join us from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We’ll have giveaways from the authors on the half-hour!
Today, we are very pleased to have our third guest post from one of the SAE’s participating authors. DAN TRUMPIS is the YA author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone: A Tale from the Town of Harmony. If you’re in the Phoenix area, please be sure to come by on Saturday to meet Dan, chat with him up close and personal, and pick up his latest book!

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Greetings.

My name is Dan Trumpis, and I am the proud author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone: A Tale from the Town of Harmony. Both are novels for middle-grade readers and full of magic and monsters. It’s been a long road getting here. I’ve spent years trying to find my voice as a writer. I didn’t intend to write for younger readers, at Trumpisleast not at first, but it was something I eventually settled into. Now, I’m proud to call myself a children’s author – even though quite a few adults have said they’ve enjoyed my books as well.

I think being a teacher definitely helped shape me as a writer. I got to sample a wealth of classic and contemporary children’s literature and experience the joy many of these books brought to my students. Like many indie authors, I tried to get published through traditional means. I got “teased” by a couple of agents. One of them even took a meeting with the head of juvenile literature at Tor. Sadly, nothing ever came from it.

That didn’t stop me from writing though. I thought about indie publishing for quite a while. At the same time, I began sharing Welcome to Harmony with my class and some other students at the school where I taught fifth grade. I got a great response, especially from the eighth graders at that school. They gave me such great constructive criticism for Welcome to Harmony that I immediately began a rewrite.

After that, I decided to plunge into the world of indie publishing, and I haven’t regretted it since. My plans are to write a series of books that take place in a common setting, the fictional town of Harmony, which will include a revolving cast of characters, all of whom are middle-school kids, each with a different supernatural ability. I’m currently in the midst of writing the third book. I have to be honest. It’s not going so well, but when I get low and consider giving up, I remember a great quote I read from Ray Bradbury.

“You only fail when you stop writing.”

I think that says it all.

I’m looking forward to the Summer Author Event at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. I hope to meet a lot of you there.

Dan Trumpis, author of Welcome to Harmony and Gwen Gladstone

Learn more about Dan Trumpis on his Facebook page: facebook.com/Harmony1855

We look forward to seeing you TOMORROW!

Laura

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PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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Escaping together – guest post from Matthew Cerra

Saturday promises to be an exceptional day in Phoenix, Arizona, as the inaugural Summer Author Event takes place at the Phoenix Center for the Arts (1202 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004). More than 30 local authors will come together in oneCerra Empires place for a lively book signing/meet-and-greet event that promises to delight book lovers of all stripes. Genres range from all manner of fiction to spiritual works, children’s books, business books, personal development books, and everything in between. Join us from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We’ll have giveaways from the authors on the half-hour!
Today, we are thrilled to have a guest post from one of the SAE’s participating authors. MATTHEW CERRA is the author of Empires Awakening, a debut fantasy novel. If you’re in the Phoenix area, please be sure to come by on Saturday to meet Matthew, ask him any questions, and pick up a copy of his book!

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Today one of the wonderful readers of my book sent me a link to an image on Facebook with a unique why I writequote (right), that after a bit, I realized had some truth to it. In some ways, being the writer of fantasy can easily turn into a very dangerous form of balanced insanity. If some random person were walking around your town describing dragons, unicorns, and creatures of a magical nature out loud for all to hear, they would undoubtedly be committed before they hurt themselves or others.

However as an author of fantasy, I am called upon to create a fantastic world that will actually lure people in with its beauty and enticing story. I must create an experience so immersive and engaging to the reader that they will want to leave reality behind for a time. I must create an experience that a reader will love and appreciate as much, if not more, than they do reality. I must also keep a firm grip on which world is real. That balancing act is exciting, and not entirely without its dangers.

I began writing when I was very young, though I am not sure when I began to compose entire stories. I know for certain I railroadswas reading as many books as I could get my hands on from an early age. I was a very early reader – before I turned four I could already read, driven to it by the book pictured at the right. As you can imagine, I had a thing for trains and railroads. Okay, I will be honest, I still have a thing for trains and railroads. If I ever become as well off as JK Rowling, I fully intend to buy my own steam engine, working, of course. It will be a Norfolk and Western Class J, for those wondering.

However, much of my reading was an escape. For much of the first 18 years of my life, things happened that created a need and a wish to get away. When I had the opportunity – which was infrequent, since I moved a great number of times – I took writing workshops and courses to help me get the insanity inside my mind out onto the page. For a time, I even participated in an email RPG. That amounted to a creative writing exercise where the first writer tags multiple people in a story thread and tries to push the story ahead, while at the same time giving those people a chance to fill in the gaps and push the story ahead in a cooperative fashion.

I think my greatest lessons from that process were both practical and social. I learned the great value in working with other creative individuals. I also think learning to let go is a very difficult process for some authors, for their words are sacred to them. My stories are my creations, my work put into the world – to have someone change that in a way I can’t predict or control is frightening! You don’t realize how attached you are until you hand something over to another and have no clue what they will make of it. It’s very hard to get used to that.

The even more important lesson I learned was how powerful words can be for us. Language is our way of bonding with others – friends, family, and love are created through language. That person you see every day on the subway or the bus may not mean as much to you as someone you have written with or talked with. Those words and the emotions behind them mean something. One of the writers I found to be an incredible blast to work with, and with whom I spent probably four years working, let me and a few close others know he had a terminal illness. I had never met the man in person; we had simply emailed and written back and forth for just a few years – but the loss of his presence and words really struck a chord with me.

Empires Awakening is the grandest story I have created yet. This is the largest world, with the most characters, and is a culmination of many different creative threads I have had dancing around inside my head for a decade. The biggest thing I want people to know see is my desire to bring them a glimpse of something wonderful. I will always take my time and craft a world or a place that strikes a reader with its beauty, its presence, and even its emotional toll.

Anyone who comes to my table at the Summer Author Event will be guaranteed an exciting and open, spoiler-free conversation. I am very friendly and want every reader to have the chance to be given a way out of reality for a short time. Hopefully, however, not for the same reasons I needed to escape. A few minutes witnessing beauty through the words put to page is something everyone could benefit from each day.

Matthew Cerra, author of Empires Awakening

Read and follow Matthew’s blog: http://zombiefear.blogspot.com

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Laura

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PHOENIX-AREA BOOK LOVERS: Come out to meet me and 30+ other local authors for this one-of-a-kind book lovers’ event. Several Summer Author Eventfirst-time authors, award-winning authors, and authors of a wide variety of genres will be on hand to sell and sign books. Genres of all sorts – from fiction to spirituality to leadership to personal finance. The first 100 attendees to register will receive goody bags! Giveaways on the half-hour. Learn more and get your complimentary ticket at SummerAuthorEvent.com.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

 

 

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Letting your imagination run riot

For a split second last night, I felt like the protagonist in a horror movie. It happened during an adventure out to see an artist friend’s work during First Friday – the monthly celebration of art, culture, and strange that takes place in downtown Phoenix. 

Thing is, I forgot that Downtown Phoenix that this particular evening promised  a traffic superstorm: second day of Comicon, Atlanta Braves at the Arizona Diamondbacks, and First Friday. Woo-hoo! Twelve-dollar parking … so glad I had cash with me!

 As I headed toward the Arizona Science Center to see Lisa’s art projected on the dome of the Dorrance Planetareum, I encountered many a kooky character.

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Waited in line almost 20 minutes to buy a bottled water from the Chicken and Waffles vendor only to hear: “No! I’m all sold out of beverages.” Big chalkboard right there with their prices on it – they couldn’t mention the no-beverages situation and save the people who just wanted some relief from the heat the fruitless wait? Oh, wait … Comicon. These people are impervious to heat!

Finally made it to the Science Center, where they were blessedly well-stocked with beverages, from beer to wine to soda … and water.

Then I saw Lisa’s show. We’ve been friends for nearly a dozen years and I love her art, but this was something extraordinary. Most of her paintings range in size from 5″ x 8″ to 16″ x 24″. In other words, not very big. But there they were, projected on the planetarium dome as big as the roof of my house!

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Note the little red dot on the bottom right of the picture – that’s the EXIT sign!

Lisa did a series of paintings featuring comedian Louis CK. This one is delightful … and the creators of the planetarium show animated it so that the wings flitted and the “bee” buzzed all over the dome before settling in the middle of the painting.

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These still photos don’t do her work justice. These were part of a series of five animal totems … each one more gorgeous than the last.

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It was, by far, one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Lisa’s art is absolutely gorgeous – but the animation and the music just made the experience other-worldly. If you’re in Phoenix and missed the show (or will be in Phoenix in the next couple weeks), Lisa’s looking to do a command performance for VIP guests. You can come as my guest, provided you’re willing to do it on a Sunday morning and you email me that you’re interested (laura@writemarketdesign.com).

It was on my way back to my car that the horror-movie moment happened. I was casually strolling, enjoying the coolish 90-degree weather, when I looked north and saw a GIANT mob of people moving toward me. People were beginning to line the street I was walking, so it was only seconds before I realized it must be a Zombie Walk. I figured I had plenty of time to cross the street and make it to my parking garage without incident. Then, the noise behind me got louder. I turned to look, and the mob was turning the corner onto the street where I was walking! Shit, they’re coming this way. It was such a comical thought, because I could imagine the heroine of B horror movie uttering that very line.

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Little zombies. Big zombies. Religious zombies. Alien zombies. French maid zombies. Zombies with green hair. Zombies with tattoos. Every kind of zombie you can imagine – all were out in full force.I am, admittedly, not a fantasy or horror fan. I bought a couple paranormal romances authored by a Facebook pal (and they were actually pretty good!), but overall, these are just not my genres of choice. But it occurred to me that these are a LOT of people’s genres of choice. The 2013 San Diego Comicon is estimated to have generated in excess of $163 million – from 150,000 attendees. Yes, you’re a writer – but do the math! That’s an average of nearly $1,100 bucks a person. Now, not all of that money was spent at the event – hotels, food, car rentals get factored in. But these are still people who are shopping.
What’s my point? If you’re an author in any of these genres and there’s a Comicon anywhere near you, shouldn’t you be there with postcards on a street corner, at the VERY least? Dressed as your main character or villain, if you’re really willing to get in the spirit? Doing impromptu readings, if you’re willing to go the distance?

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Speaking of paranormal fiction … a member of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup which I facilitate said something priceless at our last meeting. One of our regular features is that we each announce an action step we plan to take before the next meeting. I write those down and post them. Then, at the start of each meeting, we go around the room to check in and see how everyone did with their goals. This accountability piece is really one of the most valuable things we do, in my humble opinion. At any rate, L, who writes under the pseudonym LS Brierfield, said, in discussing her current projects: “One of my characters told me the other day that she wants to have her own series.”

I just found this idea so charming … that L’s characters speak to her, and that she listens to them and takes their comments seriously enough to share with our group. We should all listen to what our characters are telling us! Even nonfiction authors have characters in their stories.

 So, there you have it. My serendipitous lesson cultivated as I wandered among elves and fairies and zombies and out-of-this-word creatures. I think we can all do to get out of our self-imposed boxes and cages and limits every once in a while to see what other creatives are doing.

Here’s to imagination!

Laura

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If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put an Anatomy of a Book Launchevent like this together, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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