Posts Tagged ‘book events’

The Writer Next Door

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I haven’t done any author events in awhile, but I’m excited about the event that’s coming up next weekend, an evening of readings, panels and book sales called “The Writer Next Door.”


ballard writers poster 2013-1

What I love about this event is that it’s local, put on by a talented and industrious group called Ballard Writers Collective. This is our fourth annual pre-Christmas event, and what makes this one special is that guests will be able to purchase a $15 book sampler, giving them the opportunity to go home with two or three books at a great bargain price.

In addition to the sampler, the evening features readings by a dozen Collective members, myself included. I’m particularly excited to be reading from an essay I wrote about my brother with autism, Mark Rimland, who illustrated my 1998 picture book THE SECRET NIGHT WORLD OF CATS.


Guests who want to learn more about the writing and publishing process are sure to enjoy the Ask-an-Author Panel, and hopefully everyone will have love the gift basket raffle, the delicious wine and goodies, the book sales by Secret Garden Books, and the chance to interact with the authors who live right in their own neighborhood. And best of all, admission is free!

So if you’re in the Ballard area next Friday, November 1st, come on down to the Sunset Hill Community Club at 7 pm and meet the writers next door.

Odds and Ends

Monday, January 7th, 2013

It’s a new year, so it feels like time to take care of a few odds and ends. First, I’m getting excited about my appearance at the Olympia Timberland Library this Friday at 6:30 p.m., along with YA authors Megan Bostic (NEVER EIGHTEEN), Jennifer Shaw Wolf (BREAKING BEAUTIFUL), and Kimberly Derting (THE BODY FINDER series).


The title of our program is “Writers on Writing,” so it promises to be informative as well as entertaining. Our books will be available for purchase and signing after the talk, so please come  on out if you’re in the area. We’d love to see you!

Second, I’m anxiously awaiting feedback from beta readers on the latest draft of my WIP. I’ve gotten one response already, and she loved it! A quote from her email:


HELEN! YES, I’M SCREAMING OVER HERE! I was up all night with your revision because I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. It’s really perfect. I loved every part of it. And the tension is so thick throughout, it kept me turning pages. (or scrolling) I would absolutely pay to read this – and I will when it gets published – I’m going to have a copy of the hardcover on my shelf. This has to be published. 
Pretty strong praise, but I’m trying not to let it go to my head. I’ll wait and see what my other two readers have to say, then do another revision addressing their comments and any weak spots I find when I read the draft. Then, and only then, it goes off to my agent.
Lastly, there’s a lot of talk in the air about New Year’s resolutions. I don’t tend to make them, since my life is rife with rules and structure, anyway. But this year, I want to remind myself to keep a sense of play alive in my work. What’s the point of writing if I don’t enjoy it?
Any odds and ends you’d like to get off your chest? I’m all ears!

Rubbing shoulders with a giant

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve done a lot of book events in the past year. There are a number of different reasons I choose to do an event. Sometimes it’s because the event gives me an opportunity to spend time in a wonderful place, as was the case when I did a signing with Amber Kizer last February at Moonraker Books on beautiful Whidbey Island.

with author Amber Kizer at Moonraker Books in Langley

Sometimes a particular event gives me a chance to hang out with fellow writers, like the readings and signings I’ve done with Elevensies pals Megan Bostic, Carole Estby Dagg, Kiki Hamilton, and Kendare Blake, among others.

with Kendare Blake, Kiki Hamilton, Megan Bostic, and Kathy McCullough at Third Place Books Lake Forest Park

Sometimes I’ll do an event just to support a bookstore that I love, like Secret Garden Books in Ballard, where I held my launch party.

Me checking out books in the YA section of Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard

But this Saturday, I’ll be participating in an event for all those reasons, and more. Young Adult Book Day at Finally Found Books in Black Diamond will not only give me a chance to support an indie bookstore but also to explore a cool little town I haven’t spent much time in. On top of that, I’ll get to hang out with fellow authors Kendare Blake, Joni Sensel, and Jennifer Shaw Wolfe. But the icing on the proverbial cake is that I’ll get to meet bestselling children’s author Peg Kehret!

I’ve long admired Peg Kehret from afar. I love it that she’s a supporter of animal rescue – which I am, as well – and often includes animals in her books. While I admire her Middle Grade mystery/adventure stories, I was blown away by her autobiographical book “Small Steps,” about her childhood experience with polio. In some way, I’ve always felt a kinship with her because of my early experience with cancer.

And this Saturday, I’ll get to meet her! If you’re in Western Washington, you can meet her, too. She, along with a number of other YA authors, myself included, will be at Finally Found Books in Black Diamond from 11-2. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll consider coming. It’s not often that you get to rub shoulders with a giant of children’s literature.

Jingle, slump, interlude revisited

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

In my last post, I told you about a cool event that I was getting ready to participate in called the 3-word challenge. As part of  a full day of writing-related readings and workshops put on by the Ballard Writers Collective, 15 writers committed to writing a 3-minute piece containing the words “jingle,” “slump,” and “interlude.”

Honestly, I expected the results to be amusing, at best. I thought each writer would have a clever little story and that the audience members would clap or cheer – or maybe laugh – when they heard one of the words being used. Boy, was I in for a surprise. The pieces that everyone shared were incredibly diverse, and many of them were no less than amazing. In fact, the stories were so well written that I think everyone forgot to listen for the three words. Instead of being the central elements of the stories, “jingle,” “slump,” and “interlude” became jumping-off points for each talented writer’s imagination.

In case you’re curious what these three words triggered in me, here’s the piece I read last Saturday night, which is based on the true story of the origin of the “I Wish I Were an Oscar Meyer Weiner” song:


No doubt about it, I was in a slump. Sure, I’d come up with a couple of good ones in the past few years: I did some decent work for Coca Cola, and then there was the McDonalds account, but if you want to know the truth, I was thinking maybe I’d lost my touch.

Vivian – that’s my wife – she never lost faith in me. “Richard,” she’d say when I’d come home from the ad agency feeling beaten down and used up, “you’re the best they’ve got, and don’t you forget it.” And then she’d cook me up a nice dinner, and afterwards she’d get out her stand-up bass and I’d grab my banjo-ukelele, and we’d make music together. That always cheered me up. But then another morning would dawn, and I’d go to work, sure I’d finally run clean out of ideas.

And then, one day, my boss comes into the office. “The folks over at Oscar Meyer are running a contest,” he tells me.

“Oscar Meyer?”

“Yeah, you know,” he says, taking a puff off his cigar, “the wiener people. They’re looking for someone to help them sell hot dogs.”

I told him I’d get right on it. And I tried. I sat there at my desk, thinking about hot dogs and buns and relish till the sun set over the gray Chicago skyline, but nothing came.

By the time I got home I was in a foul mood. Thank God for Vivian. She fed me her famous pork chops and let me talk it out. Then she got out her bass and said, “Come on Richard. Let’s get your mind off this thing.”

So we start to play, and all of a sudden, it comes to me. “Listen to this, Viv,” I say, and I pluck out a little tune on my banjo-ukele.

She cocks her head and smiles. “I like it. Does it got words?”

And just like that, the words come to me, and I start to sing. “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener…”

“Oh, that’s good, Richard,” she says. “That’s really good.”

I wish I could say it happened overnight, but actually, there was an interlude of about a year between the time I entered the contest and the day I got the letter telling me I was the winner. The rest, as they say, is history. My little tune made it into the homes of 49 million families in 19 countries, and the wife and I were finally able to pay off the mortgage and take that vacation we’d always wanted.

Every time that royalty check would come in, I’d shake my head. I still couldn’t believe it. But not Viv. She’d just kiss me on the cheek and say, “Honey, I always knew you were the best jingle man in the business.”


What ideas do the words “jingle,” “slump,” and “interlude” inspire in you?



Jingle, slump, interlude

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Jingle…slump…interlude. What do these three words have in common? They’re the three words I have to deftly integrate into a three-minute story to tell at the evening portion of the Ballard Writers’ Big Event.

And what is the Big Event, you may ask? It’s an annual extravaganza hosted by the Ballard Writers Collective at Sunset Hill Community Club. It’s run a little differently every year, but this year it will feature two components: a day event, chock full of workshops and presentations on everything from waffle-making to poetry, and an evening component, starring the Three Word Challenge, in which 20-plus writers will try their hand at creating viable stories using the words “jingle,” “slump,” and “interlude.”

There will be wine, there will be treats, there will be fun crafts to buy. And most of all, there will be books! If you’re in the neighborhood, I hope you’ll stop by, listen to some stories, and take home a copy of the brand-new paperback edition of FLYAWAY!

And here’s your challenge: Can you write a sentence using the three magic words? Leave it in the comments!