Thursday, June 26, 2008

THE PROCESS OR THE PLOT? WHAT'S AN AUTHOR TO DO?

IT'S FIFTY-TWO DEGREES IN SEATTLE!!!!!!
They say it's supposed to be 80 by this weekend but I will already be back to Hawaii.
That is SO not fair.

Third Place books is such an awesome venue. We had lots of good conversation lots of participants and yummy goodies from Honey Bear Bakery. A great time was had by all.
And I got to connect again with waaaaaay cool book clubs. This one is from Everett.
Such fun...

It's interesting.
There's always such a dilemma when you do readings and talks - do you talk about the book? The characters? The plot?
Or do you talk about the process of publication and writing?
What to do?
I usually let the audience ask questions and try to gauge what the people want, but sometimes it's hard to tell. Most of the time those attending are readers. They aren't writers, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested in what it takes to put a book on the shelf.
Some of the questions are asked over and over.
How did you come up with the idea?
What inspires you to write?
Who do you want to play Perry in the movie...
Other times someone asks about literary strategies I used or what kind of books I like to read or authors I enjoy.
I wonder what the consensus will be. So bloggers...How about it. When you're at a reading and signing what do YOU like the author to talk about?
Inquiring authors want to know.
Hey.
Maybe this can be ANOTHER contest.
The previous one is STILL going on. TWO autographed trade paper backs of LOTTERY will be mailed out. I will judge it when I wake up and have coffee on Friday. Results will be announced on Monday.
Go Forth.
Now.
Comment.

18 comments:

Jay said...

I just want to know where to find a good online critique group. Either they're all newbies or they're almost published and closed to new members. I want to know where the real authors (as in published authors) found their excellent crit groups prior to getting published. Obviously I'm a writer. I know where the ideas come from, LOL. I can't get those people in my head to ever shut up. I'll go take my medication now.

David said...

52 degrees! That sounds wonderful. It was 90 in Denver today. Felt like more.

ChrisEldin said...

I have never been to one of these.
What I dream about is a cozy place filled with chairs in a cirlce. Everyone has a book. The author reads his/her favorite passage from the book.
Then talks about the characters and their motivations....
I would also LOVE to hear what the author thought about other author's books.....what's in the author's library.

And cookies. And wine.
Oh, that would be nice.
:-)

Holly Kennedy said...

Hmmmmm...
When I attend a reading, I don't want it to be a dry/bland event where the author reads and answers standard questions. I want to get to know the author beyond his/her book. Better yet, I want to be entertained :)

ORION said...

Jay- I don't know about online crit groups. Bloggers do you? There are lots of writers groups who meet at bookstores. You might ask Writerly Pause (on my favorites) also if you go to the Maui Writers Retreat (and other conferences) you can make crit group friends.
Have you tried "share your work" on absolute write?
I actually never had a writer's group. I go to Maui (now on Oahu) each year.

Sarah Laurence said...

I agree with Holly that humor helps. There are several things I like to hear at a reading:

1. The personal story that inspired the book. There are so many stories you could tell so why this one?

2. What is your next book project?

3. Reading a favorite excerpt (keep it short) - it makes the voice come alive and is a great introduction if I haven't read the book. Let the book do the talking instead of trying to explain it.

4. Time for questions (but cut off the ones that go on too long or repeat) - the unprepared response is often more interesting and honest than the scripted speech - so it sounds like you are on the right track!

If you want to see how other authors handled their readings, see my review post of The Oxford Literary Festival. Lionel Shriver did a great job on all counts.

laughingwolf said...

ok, dang google ate my post! grrrr

BClark said...

My thinking is that it was the bathtub. I do not imagine you have much space on the boat for a nice long soak. Being able to strech out in nice hot, scented water for unlimited time is heaven. Being able to add as much hot water as you want, what could be better.

I like hearing about the whole process, how the idea came to you, what blocked you. I toy with the idea of writing, my Grandfather wrote constantly and was published many times. I use him as an example. I believe what stops me is finding the time, I have dialogs going on in my mind all the time.

Best to you, Barbara

BClark said...

Thank You for stopping by. I will be happy to share my roses with you. It is always a treat to read what you have been up to. Expands my horizons.

Best to you, Barbara

ChrisEldin said...

In regards to Jay's question, I belong to an online crit group (one that I started about a year and a half ago)
It's through MSN groups.

You can go to writing boards and ask for members with such and such qualifications to contact you.

Our group has four members. It's perfect for us. We each post a small bit once a week. The pace is great.

Email me if you'd like to know more about how to set one up.

Mystery Robin said...

That is my all time favorite book store ever. I used to live right up the hill. Didn't you love Lake Forest Park?!

I am inspired by lamp posts, fog, snow, and men with strong jawlines. ;)

Mary said...

I’m interested in almost anything a writer has to say about their work. But, if they talk about aspects that interest or concern them most, it can be more entertaining and informative than a standard Q&A. :)

Sustenance Scout said...

Personal stories all around. My first book dealt with mixed-race issues and since my family is mixed I got oodles of questions about that at book club meetings. As for entertainment, follow Carleen's lead and sign up your husband's jazz group to perform. I suppose it helps if your DH actually has a jazz group or even plays an instrument; if not maybe Touloose could fill in for him. Carleen's notorious Tattered Cover book launch also featured lots of humor and personal stories about the writing of Orange Mint & Honey. I put her on the spot by asking about how she "left" a certain character at the end of her book, a big no-no when so many folks haven't yet read the story (a fact that became clear when lots of people around me immediately covered their ears; woops!). Carleen handled it brilliantly and gave away nothing that would ruin the end for anyone; with book clubs at least that issue normally isn't a problem! Either way personal stories make the whole experience intriguing and memorable for everyone involved, I think. Aren't you glad you asked, Pat? :) K.

Brenda said...

Pat,

Like Holly, I'm not big on authors merely reading passages from their books; I want to get to know them, learn what makes them tick, etc.

Jay,

Don't know if you're familiar with Zoetrope (http://www.Zoetrope.com/), but I found them very helpful.

ORION said...

This makes sense...for my tour for the hardcover many people at my event hadn't read my book yet so there were more requests for me to read a couple sections. When the paperback came out most of the attendees had read the book so they had more questions about the process of writing it and my experiences...

nancorbett said...

I MISSED YOU'RE VISIT HERE!!!!!!!! Argh! Blast. Fiddle sticks. Heck. Grrr.

You'll be back. You've got to come back. You're never coming back, are you? Well, in that case, it was 98 degrees here last weekend, and we drove to Sultan and dipped ourselves in the glacial waters of the Skykomish River. We had buttermilk bars from the Sultan bakery and watched the fireworks from the Monroe fairground from my back yard. See what you missed?

Here's a question for ya...I can see how it would be difficult to know what to say at a reading or when being interviewed by a book reviewer. As a reviewer of books, I want to know this. What are the things that you wish people would ask you?

The Anti-Wife said...

Sorry I missed you!

Ray Wong said...

It's awesome!