Musings about the writing life.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bibliofeast 2013

Women's National Book Association
Monday, October 14, 6-9 pm
Maggiano's Little Italy, Charlotte

Jamie Mason and me

Mary Struble Deery and me

 Susan Gregg Gilmore and me

What a great event! The food was AMAZING. The authors jumped from table to table answering any questions we had about what it was like to be a writer.  Sort of a musical chairs type of thing.  Somebody won a Kobo. Authors signed the books I bought. Good times! 

Jamie Mason said she got the idea for her book from a newspaper article title.  Cassandra King said her book is a loose modern adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. Tommy Hays told us writing a young adult novel was no different than writing an adult book for him.  He didn't change the level of vocabulary or anything like that. Wilton Barnhardt said he taught creative writing and NC State and there was a short story writing contest we needed to enter by next Monday.

This year's writers and books were the following:
Wilton Barnhardt, Lookaway, Lookaway
Diane Chamberlain, Necessary Lies
Nora Gaskin, Time of Death and Until Proven
Susan Gregg Gilmore, The Funeral Dress
Tommy Hays, What I Came to Tell You
Cassandra King, Moonrise
Rebecca Lee, Bobcat and Other Stories
Jamie Mason, Three Graves Full
John Milliken Thompson, Love and Lament

It was the fourth year the WNBA put on this event but my first time.  I hope I always get to go.

Monday, September 30, 2013

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti Visits GTCC

September 25th, 2013
Jamestown, NC

12-1 pm Poetry Reading
Joseph Bathanti read poetry in the AT Auditorium, introducing each one with a great anecdote.  The subject was often "leaving home." For him, he had left Pittsburgh to come to North Carolina.  One poem was about the night before his sister was getting married.  In that case, his sister was "leaving home" for the first time.  Joseph Bathanti's poems are often free verse with a narrative threading through.  He captured everyone's attention and even raffled off two of his poetry books at the end.

1-2 pm Conversations with Veterans
Bathanti in his position as poet laureate especially loves to work with veterans.  He thinks that writing can be therapeutic for veterans.  He stated, "Either you control the memory, or the memory controls you."  He mentioned that 2 million Americans have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and 1/4 of them have been diagnosed with PTSD.

He mentioned some of the following resources for veterans:
I asked him if there was a piece of writing associated with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, is often associated with literature about the Vietnam War.

One student vet in the audience shared that after he read "The Things They Carried" with his English class, he couldn't go back to class for a week--it had brought up all these memories and feelings.

He suggested two books:
  • The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers (He's from Bluefield, VA.)
  • Here, Bullet (Poems) by Brian Turner
Looking for where to submit poems and short stories you write?
He suggested going to the website

3-4 pm Writing Creatively
The final session of the day was a round table discussion conversation about poetry with the GTCC Creative Writers Club members and some visiting guests.  Bathanti explained the difference between formalism and free verse. We discussed how poetry does not seem to be beach material and what a prose poem is exactly.

He suggested enhancing your poetry by always putting in a dramatic situation, a situation we can see/witness.  Then narrate that.

He said to try to avoid the "ephemeral" (feelings).  Use imagery.  Use language that appeals to the senses.

A poem has to sound good.  "Don't get 'format anxiety,'" he said.

"Show not Tell."  Isn't saying "he smashed Junior's face in" so much better than saying he was angry?  Isn't it great how you see Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman come on stage in the first scene and you just see him put his heavy suitcases down? (I am paraphrasing, but that is a good image!!)

He told us he personally was highly influenced by Robert Lowell's autobiographical poems in Life Studies, which I need to go and pick up....

Monthly NCWN Charlotte Chapter Meetup

Julia's Cafe and Books
Charlotte, NC
Saturday, September 28, 2013
3-5 pm
Hosted by Annie Maier

First of all, I love Julia's Cafe.  I found a copy of Steve Zissou for three dollars--The Criterion Collection!!

Secondly, Annie always brings homemade cinnamon cookies and handouts!!

"The more conferences I attend and the more studies and articles I read, the more I am convinced that one thing will remain constant regardless of the changes in our industry. No matter the media, genre or subject, the biggest difference between successful authors and aspiring writers is perseverance--the willingness, and ability, to stay seated, stay focused, and write." --Annie Maeir

I met some great local writers and talked about writing "salon style" like in Paris in the 30s perhaps....

I also was reminded of things to come: I don't know if I'll make it all the way down to Wrightsville Beach for this year's NCWN Fall Conference, but I should because they have a workshop on how to write sex scenes!!!

I did sign up for the "Spaghetti Night with Authors" that's happening Monday, October 14th though at Maggiano's hosted by the Women's National Book Association which is really called Bibliofeast 2013.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to Live Like an Artist

A Workshop led by Elaine Connors
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
6:30-8:30 pm
Carolina Learning Connection

"Being an artist is not about being able to draw a straight line, it's about self-expression." --Elaine Connors.

"How to Live Like an Artist" was an excellent workshop led by Elaine Connors. We discussed how artists make artistic decisions, how rituals are important, and how to listen to our inner compass.  "How to Think Like an Artist" might have been a better title for me because it wasn't about how to apply for grants or how to divide your time or how to use paint, etc.  It was a lesson on how "to be."

"Rituals can be anything from spraying yourself with rose water to lighting a candle.  It's important though to let your body know that this is what your doing now... listening for the answer to 'What do I do next?'"

We started with a breathing exercise.  It's so hard for me to sit still and be still so meditation always makes we want to bolt out the door, but I do want to explore it a little bit more.  It is definitely a way to start listening to your inner compass.

My inner compass has been telling me to avoid writing altogether and lately I'm much happier playing guitar.  But I know myself, and I know that I will need to get back to writing soon to feel happier too.

I talked about my resistance to "showing up for the muse" and Elaine suggested the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield which I will have to check out.

I've read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron who suggests writing "morning pages": journaling three handwritten pages at the beginning of each day and taking yourself on artist dates by yourself at least once a week.  I miss journaling and do want to get back to that.

She said the best video on the subject of creativity is a Ted Talks by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love:

Another idea we talked about was the idea of Kaizen, a Japanese term that means "breaking it down into small pieces.  Writer Anne Lamott is famous for talking about this concept in her book on writing, Bird by Bird.  She is also known for saying it's part of the process to have "shitty first drafts."

We did a bunch more exercises that were very helpful in visualizing what you want to do to be creative and now I'll just have to follow through...

I'll sit down.  Carry out my rituals.  Ask myself what is the next step.  And wait for the answer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

OneBookMore Booktuber Mention

Today I was mentioned by one of my favorite booktubers, OneBookMore.  She mentioned me and I already have three new subscribers.  So nice of her!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

John Hartness's Self Publishing Workshop

Saturday, June 15, 2013
Self Publishing for Fun and Profit
Workshop by John Hartness
Carolina Learning Connection
2311 Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28203

left to right: V. R. Marple, Phil Blesher
Latonia N. Bills, John Hartness, Mary Ventre, and Jeanine Angelo

Today's conference was a lot of fun and very informative.  John Hartness has been self-publishing for four years and has a 30 book inventory in the urban fantasy/ horror genre.

Talking "shop" makes me happy.  I learned that Walmart is the biggest book dealer, selling more books than Amazon and that both Walmart and Amazon don't report to the New York Times bestseller's list.  I learned that next May, I should go to Concarolinas.  I learned that since ebooks have been on the market, more and more books "sell through" (make enough money in royalties to pay back the publisher's advance that they give to writers upfront).

"The person with the most power is the one who can walk away from the table." --John Hartness 

Another great quote from our workshop leader: "If the main character hates the monster, it's horror; if he loves the monster, it's romance."

For more detailed information on this topic, I highly recommend taking the class.  John Hartness says he'll be repeating his writing classes in September.

Friday, April 26, 2013

St. Francis Book Sale Haul

St. Francis Booksale
3605 Lawndale Dr.
Greensboro, NC
Thursday, April 25th, 2013

My book haul:

Harry Potter 1-4 by J.K. Rowling
Lit by Mary Karr 
Slam edited by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Hollywood Book of Lists by Stephen J. Spignesi
The Rock Bible by Henry H. Owings
The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow
Selected Poems: W.H. Auden edited by Edward Mendelson
Me & Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard by Herman Gollob
The Roominghouse Madrigals by Charles Bukowski
Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Edmund Schubert Guest Lectures to Creative Writing Classes

Edmund Schubert came to both the Creative Writing I and II classes and spoke about publishing and writing today.

He talked about how he is the editor for Orson Scott Card's online literary magazine Intergalactic Medicine Show and how he looks at a lot of different people's work and tries his best on deciding on what pieces should be in the magazine. "Character is very important and so is story."  He wants the writing to flow without any "speed bumps" allowing him to get "lost in the story."

The classes got to ask questions. One question was what did he do when he got writer's block? He answered that when he gets writer's block that he tends to fall back into his editor mode and edits his work. He said one can over-edit a piece to death and never finish writing the story. So he said, "Never lose the momentum."  One just needs to keep going and not stop until he or she gets to the end. Editing is something that can be done later, but getting a story down on paper while one is in the momentum of writing is the hard part.

Schubert explained to us the difference between getting a literary agent and self-publishing. The big advantage to going with a literary agent that gets you into the big publishing houses in New York like, Random House, Penguin etc. is that these these publishing houses can get you into Barnes & Nobles.

Going with small publishing houses is still good, but will not get one into Barnes & Nobles. Writers who self-publish their ebooks get 70% of the profits on a quarterly basis. They get to control what the cover looks like and have the instant gratification of publishing right away rather than waiting around two or three years.

Either way, all writers have to do their own marketing these days.  They need a "platform" whether this is done by blogging, social media, or reading in front of audiences.

Often big publishers keep an eye on what ebooks are selling the most and will then approach those writers to do their print books.  "Nowadays," Schubert said, "self-publishing a book is the new platform for writers."

(This blog was written by Golda Fried and Nicole Cline.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Editors and a Comma Dialogue Workshop

April 20, 2013
Two Editors and a Comma
Dialogue Workshop
Quail Hollow Estates Clubhouse
Charlotte, NC

Yesterday, I went to a great workshop on dialogue led by Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe, Two Editors and a Comma (Facebook page).
Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe

They were extremely well-prepared and all the participants walked away with a stack of handouts.

Carin slipped us into the topic by going over dialogue punctuation on one of their daughter's whiteboard.  Then they bounced other topics related to dialogue back and forth such as layering narrative with dialogue and not overusing dialogue tags such as "exclaimed," etc.--using "said" is just fine.

I met a great group of women which is always nice. And there were very good homemade chocolate chip cookies and iced tea. The room itself was full of beautiful natural light and next to a "plond" (pond/lake) as Betsy called it.

Many great books with great dialogue were mentioned but the one that intrigued me the most was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  "Remember, it did win the Pulitzer Prize," Betsy said.

Betsy also mentioned a YA novel, Hysteria, by a local author Megan Miranda that sounded interesting about a girl who murdered her boyfriend but can't remember it well.

Here's what's twirling in my head the day after: Don't bother putting dialogue tags in the middle of a sentence, sentence fragments are okay in fiction as long as they're not accidental, and the publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey did not have a lot of time to edit because it went straight from the web to print and nobody wanted to lose the momentum there. "Otherwise it probably would be half the size."--invisible dialogue tag there because I can't remember who said that.

Betsy said that she and Carin will try to do a workshop quarterly.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

North Carolina Writers Network Spring Conference

Yesterday, Sat. Apr. 13th, 2013, I attended the NCWN Spring Conference at UNCG (Greensboro).  I try to go every year.  It's always been one Saturday in April in Greensboro.  I love feeling like a student and talking shop with other writers.

I woke up without the usual trouble.  It was a sun shiny day.

When I got to the MHRA building, Ed Southern, the president of NCWN, checked me in.  Kevin Morgan Watson from Press 83 gave me a bright orange pen.  I found two people to talk to who I had been in classes before at previous conferences.

My first workshop was about self-publishing with author Scott Nicholson.  There seemed to be a whole bunch of people who already self-published in the group and the conversation in the Q&A type workshop quickly veered toward how to market one's book.  Many people had joined Kindle Select (on Amazon) and were talking about the benefits of that.

Scott said publishing is now a "button, not an industry." A quarter of U.S. books are now ebooks and that is only going to rise. He was sure Barnes and Noble would be bankrupt in a year. Majorly depressing.

Why epublishing?  Well, currently authors receive10% royalties in traditional publishing whereas in epublishing it is now 70% though there is talk of it going down to 35%.  Writers cut out "the middle man" and have more say in the cover design and format.

He said he uses the free software Calibre to change word documents into epub format.

We talked about which will distribute your ebook to Kobo and Apple and take a 15% cut.  They will pay you your royalties from these places every quarter.

Bookbaby was also mentioned; they apparently charge a $150.00 start up flat fee to get your ebook out to all the different formats.

He stated that Facebook will only let you send messages to some of the people who like your fan page and after that you need to pay.  I had not known that and found that pretty shocking. "When did that happen?" I asked.  "Basically when they started selling stock," he said. Instead he suggested for writers to start their own emailing lists.

Another interesting fact I learned: North Carolina residents can't become Amazon affiliates because of the tax laws here.  A lot of the Booktubers I watch on YouTube are Book Depository affiliates and I would guess the same would be true there.

He mentioned the resource, as a place to announce and find free ebooks. He also mentioned

Want to make your book an audiobook?  Go to

Scott Nicholson stated he was able to make enough money self-publishing to quit his day job, which is extremely rare for writers these days.  However, Scott seems like a prolific writer who hooks readers in with preludes and sequels--I'm pretty sure I personally am not that kind of writer.  It takes me years to come up with a solid 150 pages.

In the afternoon, I had a workshop on plot with author John McNally, another prolific writer but of the traditional publishing kind.  He came to class with a cart-load of handouts.  Handouts for me are like presents so it was basically Christmas in April for me!  They were basically lists of different plot types and short story examples.

I picked up John McNally's latest book which is about writing: Vivid and Continuous (a phrase from John Gardiner).

I have a pdf version on my Kindle but I still like paper versions, especially if they are a dying breed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Barnes and Noble Book Haul

Last night I was in Barnes and Noble innocently standing by the new Young Adult books table when two girls came up to me like I worked there and asked me where Gone Girl was.

"It's under Flynn, in fiction--F--L--Y--N--N," I said without thinking.

I have not read this, so how did I know this?  I was pretty proud of myself.  Not only did I look like a smart bookseller even in my sparkly red sweater but I also knew the answer.

And I have to say, I know the answer from watching so many Booktube videos.  Thank you, Booktubers!

I also walked out of Barnes and Noble with the following YA books that I hope to read one day soon:
  • Every Day by David Levithan (A soul wakes up every day in a different body.)
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver--A girl wakes up reliving the last day of her life until she figures out why she died, I think.) This book is this month's YA-MA club's book read: (
  • Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (A girl gives up all social media after being dumped on Facebook and pretends she's living in the sixties.)
And Booktubers had a lot to do with those decisions too.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Last Day of Books a Million

Tear.  Last Day of Books a Million.

Books a Million in Charlotte, NC, closed on March 16, 2013.

"But you didn't go in there that much."--husband
"Yes, I did.  And anyway knowing it was there was a comfort."--me

Books were 20% off on that day and I got the following:

  • John Green boxset
  • a beautiful Penguin edition of Bridget Jones Diary (I've read this and probably have it but damn Booktubers are making me notice and want beautiful books more)
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (the Booktubers have been going on and on about this one...something about a video game and great 80s references)

The biggest point is---I will miss the hours of browsing.  (Husband is very patient as long as he has his iPhone.) There were so many more that I picked up and put back trying to keep a limit to how much I spent.

Bookstores to me are like museums.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

One of a writer's best days...

...occurs when you find out this has happened:

Quotation from Nellcott is My Darling:
He wrote on her placemat, "There is only one of us now, you know."
         He wanted her soul from the beginning.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grazing Pages Reviews Nellcott

Katie at Grazing Pages on YouTube reviews Nellcott is My Darling!

You can watch the review here:

"It's not your usual writing style and I love that about it." --Katie about Nellcott is My Darling

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My First BookTuber Mention!

Today, my book Nellcott is My Darling was mentioned by a Booktuber on a YouTube video for the first time ever and that Booktuber was Bookables, one of my favorites in a recent Book Haul. (Eeeeee!)

Bookables on YouTube

You can watch it here:

In Booktuber land, a "book haul" is a video done to show what books have been acquired recently.  (There are also book reviews and book tags, where the Booktuber has to answer a set of given questions when they are "tagged" by another Booktuber).  It's so much fun in Booktuber land.

In the video, she asks if I pronounce my last name like "fried" or like "freed." Well, I pronounce it like "freed" like the German pronunciation of all words "fried."

My first name isn't so easy for people either.  I have such a fear about giving my name out at Starbucks that it took me years not to lie about it.  Mostly, I get called Frieda or Olga or Gloria.

How did it feel seeing my book in one of Bookables' videos?  Surreal and dreamy.  Thank you, Bookables!

She also mentioned that I'm the first person to send her a review copy.  That's just crazy.  She should be getting Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) from every publisher around.  Maybe publishers have not got around to learning about Booktubers yet, but I would think they will.

Here's a blog on this topic: that mentions NetGalley and Edelweiss for e-galleys and some imprints for print books.

Otherwise, I see Booktubers sending each other books they get like a shared pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but that's expensive too...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My First Goodreads Giveaway

February 2013 was also the time I had my first Goodreads Giveaway!

This was loads of fun!!  It lasted over a period of month, and in the end I had 1014 people enter!  Ten lucky people won!  Honestly, I wish I could give everyone my book...

I definitely want to do another Giveaway and soon.

I think it was good karma too because when it was over, I found out I had won a book: an advanced copy of Lauren Graham's young adult novel Someday, Someday, Maybe.

I'm over the moon about this!  I'm a HUGE Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fan and I love you Lauren Graham.


February was the month I discovered BookTubers.  I can't remember how exactly, but I subscribed to many and fell in love with some and even asked some if I could send some my book. And some even said yes!

(These are people who do book reviews and stuff book related on YouTube.)

I even tried my own Friday Reads which you can watch at

This is very scary stuff.  I don't know if I can do this as a regular thing like most BookTubers do.  And I had to google how to do everything. (I used my WebCam and iMovie).

BookTubers I recommend include: Danny Marks, JustKissMyFrog, Grazing Pages, Mothereffingbooks, Books with Bree/ Bree Taylor, Bookables, Bunny Cates (the initiator of Friday Reads on YouTube), and Books and Quills.  There are loads more that I'll let you discover on your own.

Happy BookTubing!