Heights and Depths: A Writing Life

In the space of a week, I’ve gone from the heights to the depths.

First, the good news.

Last week, I was thrilled to learn that my book, Wisdom, the Midway Albatross was given a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. This book has defied all the odds–just as Wisdom has done.

“. . .Pattison writes crisply and evocatively, and her closing notes provide a wealth of information and resources for readers interested in Wisdom and her fellow albatrosses.” Publisher’s Weekly 2/18/13

The story is about a 60+ year-old albatross who lives on Midway Island and survived the Japanese tsunami. For over 60 years, she has soared over the North Pacific, only coming to shore to breed. Scientists estimate that she has hatched over 35 chicks, including one each year for the last five years. Last year’s chick was named Wonder and this year’s chick–just a couple weeks old now–was named Mana’olana, Hawaiian for Hope. Yes, a 62-year-old bird just hatched a new chick!

After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, I heard her story of survival and within six weeks, I had contacted scientists, researched her life and times and written her story. I contacted about twenty publishers and none would publish it. I decided to work with my long-time friend, wildlife artist Kitty Harvill to publish it from my own imprint, Mims House. Now, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it would be a long hard road. But it was an important story, one I couldn’t let go.

It won the Children’s Book category of the 20th annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published award, a $1000 cash prize. So, I submitted it to Publisher’s Weekly for review and it earned a Starred Review! Right now, it is an Amazon bestseller (for the spring season, the ebook version is only $0.99).

The starred review was especially nice, because it was a validation of all the work we had put into the book. Go look for yourself: self-published can be quality.

Next, the Bad News

Publishing has weird math. 9 months + 5 revisions = NO.
The rejection I got yesterday was shocking and painful.

For nine months, I have been working with someone on a project and it has developed in amazing ways. The critiques were spot-on and I revised like crazy. I deleted chapters, added chapters, rearranged chapters, deepened characters, searched for ways to add humor. Then, I did it again: I added a character, took out a subplot, deepened characters and searched yet again for ways to add humor. I expanded the climax scene, set it up better. I created a stronger emotional arc, added a stronger villain. I revised.

I love this story now.
It was rejected.

The world tilted for me yesterday.
Nine months. Three major (huge, gigantic, difficult, rewarding) revisions and a couple more minor ones.
No.

Yet, the moon rose as usual, I slept.
The sun rose as usual, I got up and showered and ate breakfast.
I have already queried someone else and will send it to them today.
I am raw. I feel wounded. A trust betrayed. A grieving because they couldn’t see the story in front of them; they only saw what they would have written, if only they were writers.

Are they right? Are they wrong?
I don’t know.

I only know that this is a heartbreaking week, but last week was an uplifting week. This is just the heights and the depths of our profession; somehow, it feels normal. And regardless of the reaction of others to what I write, my job is to plod along putting one word after another.

So, today, I will write.

Searching for Oliver K. Woodman

  • Interviews with Darcy Pattison and Joe Cepeda
  • Invite Oliver to your school! Call Costume Specialists at 1-800-596-9357.
  • Accelerated Reader Test: Reading Level 3.8 , 0.5 points
  • . . .this whimsical cross-country jaunt. Young readers will eagerly await more exciting travels from the wooden duo. . .Publishers Weekly
  • “. . .understatement and ambiguity are everything. . .” Kirkus Reviews

Companion Book: The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman

  • Publisher’s information from Harcourt Children’s Books
  • Interviews with Darcy Pattison and Joe Cepeda
  • Invite Oliver to your school! Call Costume Specialists at 1-800-596-9357.
  • Accelerated Reader Test–Reading Level 4.2 , 0.5 points
  • “A fresh, unusual tale.” School Library Journal
  • “. . . whimsical and imaginative. . .” Booklist
  • “. . . a warm tale. . .” Publisher’s Weekly
  • “All geography lessons should be this much fun.” Kirkus Reviews

MORE about Oliver and Imogene

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman is a book that I’ve journeyed with for eleven years, from first draft to final book. Oliver’s official publication date is April 1, 2003, which seems a curious counterpoint to the sort of (good) luck that befalls the story’s hero.

It all began when I saw a newspaper article about a wooden man who traveled around the country. People who helped him travel sent postcards back to the owner. I thought there should be a story there, but it took time to figure out how I should approach the narrative. It seemed awkward to write it from the wooden man’s viewpoint—and then it struck me that Oliver’s story could be told in letters.

I took out a map of the United States and started to write. This time, I wrote each postcard or letter in the voice of the person who helped Oliver travel. Some friends had moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina, so I started there. And I’ve always wanted to see the redwoods, so I ended near there.

In fact, most places Oliver travels through in the book have a special meaning for me. I currently live in Arkansas; my father grew up in Texas; I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and spent my childhood there; a friend of mine lives in Utah; my aunt liked visiting casinos; and I have always wanted to see the redwoods.

FREE Lesson Plans

  • Download free Lesson Plans for Darcy’s books. Included are Lesson Plans for The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman, Searching for Oliver K. Woodman and 19 Girls and Me. These Lesson Plans are FREE and may be distributed as needed.

  • Over 100 activities to do with kids: family, counting, geography, music, writing, science, art.
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the writing process for the books
  • Easy to Use–Just photocopy and go!
  • This is a 6374 KB zipped pdf file. It may take a couple minutes to download. Please be patient!

Download FREE Lesson Plans
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Earth Day + Oldest Bird in World = Free Kindle Book for 48 Hours

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22 comes a book chronicling the oldest known wild (sea)bird in the world. She’s not just OLD: at 61+ years old, this Laysan Albatross named Wisdom is a new mother.

Darcy is one of the Authors 4 Earth Day participants.

FREE Kindle Download.
For 48 hours before Earth Day on April 22, this will be a free Kindle download on April 19-20. (12:01a.m. April 19th to midnight on April 20th)

No color Kindle? No problem. Use a free app — see below.

Wisdom, the Midway Albatross: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and other Disasters for over 60 Years
(Mims House, EPub: ISBN 9780979862182, Paperback: ISBN 9780979862175)

Free Kindle ebook on April 19-20 to celebrate Earth Day

http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-the-Midway-Albatross-ebook/dp/B006VW4Z9S/

This book shows up well on any Kindle desktop program or app. Great for projecting in a classroom. Get the free programs here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

• “On December 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011. While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her. . . remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color.”

Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D, Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.

• “Wisdom’s story makes my heart soar.” –Kirby Larson, author of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Newbery Honor medalist for Hattie Big Sky

Celebrate Earth Day with the oldest known wild bird in the world, Wisdom, the Laysan Albatross.
At 60+ years old, she is still laying eggs and hatching chicks. Right now, today, she is still alive and soaring over the Pacific Ocean in search of squid to feed her 8-week old chick.

This is a story of survival in the wild and hope for Earth.

Enjoy Earth Day!
Celebrate with Wisdom

For more, see albatross.darcypattison.com

RESOURCES

See Facebook Event Page
Please pass along!

Arkansas Authors on TV and Radio

Carla McClafferty on C-Span 2/Book TV

“The Many Faces of George Washington”
Author Carla McClafferty talks at a Comcast/C-SPAN welcoming event in Little Rock about her book – which follows the process Mt. Vernon used to create life models of George Washington as a young man, commander of American forces in the revolution, and as our nation’s first President.

Airtimes: in central Arkansas–Central Standard Time:

  • Saturday, March 31st 11am
  • Saturday, March 31st 8:15pm
  • Sunday, April 1st 10:15pm

Darcy Pattison on Color Your Life Happy BlogTalk Radio Show

Why Revision is Critical to Your Success.
Writers have two challenges. First, they must resist the tremendous urge to edit while creating the rough draft. Second, they must develop the patience to edit, revise, and polish the rough draft once it’s finished.

Upon recognizing the important role of revision, James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

Join host Flora Brown and guest, Darcy Pattison, author and writing teacher, when she reveals why revision of your book is a critical part of your writing success. She will share how revision allows for distance, reflection and vital feedback and eventually the discovery of your voice and the story you were meant to tell.

Monday, April 2, 2012 at 1 pm CDST.
(There’s a nifty reminder that you can set up at the site, by clicking the clock by the time.)
Call in to speak with the host at (347) 539-5700

Give a Military Family a Free Children’s Book for Veteran’s Day

In celebration of National Picture Book Month and Veteran’s Day:

Give a Military Family a Free Book

11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph book


In celebration of National Picture Book Month and Veteran’s Day and to honor of our military families, download and give a free children’s picture book to a military family.

THE STORY: “11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph”

When her father goes soldiering for a year, a girl decides that without Dad at home, it’s not a family photo album. Though her beloved Nanny is in charge of the album that year, the girl makes sure that photographs of her never turn out well. Photos are blurred, wind blows hair in her face. April rains bring umbrellas to hide behind. Halloween means a mask. This poignant, yet funny family story, expresses a child’s anger and grief for a Dad whose work takes him away for long periods of time. It’s a tribute to the sacrifices made by military families and to those who care for children when a family needs support.

THIS STORY IS A WINNER!


In conjunction with “The Help” movie (www.thehelpmovie.com), TakePart.com (www.takepart.com/thehelp) recently sponsored three writing contests: a recipe contest, an inspirational story contest and a children’s story contest. TakePart is the digital division of Participant Media which aims to bolster a movie’s audience with a message of social change. THE HELP movie campaign emphasized the role of stories in people’s lives.


Notice: This site and the story are not endorsed by or affiliated with TakePart, LLC or the motion picture “The Help” and or its distributors.

READ THE BOOK!

Darcy Pattison’s story, “11 Ways to Ruin a Photograph” is the winning children’s story. It is a free download at www.takepart.com/thehelp, or download it here (pdf download).

You can also order it for your:

MORE

Read more at www.11WaystoRuinaPhotograph.
PLEASE pass this along to anyone who might know a military family or to anyone in the military that you know.

You Need a Series of Book Trailers

Prairie Storms by Darcy Pattison

ORDER NOW!

I’m still celebrating the publication of my picture book, PRAIRIE STORMS, by creating another video. This time, I attended the AETN-PBS Family Day event in Conway, AR, where I talked with parents and kids about reading and books. I invited the kids to be “You Tube” Stars by answering a simple question: What is a Rainbow?

As you might imagine, we got a wide range of answers. See what observations these young scientists made!


If you can’t see the embedded video, view it here.

More Than One Book Trailer?

Excerpt from The Book Trailer Manual by Darcy Pattison
Most authors make a book trailer and stop. This is my third book trailer for PRAIRIE STORMS, and I plan more. This chapter explains why multiple videos are a great idea.

More than one book trailer? Does this question surprise you? You’re unsure about doing one video, much less a couple. Should you really think about more than one book trailer for your book? Yes. Here’s why.

Networking: Like every other social media, it’s your network that counts. And networks grow when you post regular content to keep them coming back. You may want a series of trailers spread out over several months, so viewers – and readers – have reasons to come back often.

Short Life of a Video:
In May 2010, Jay Yarow and Kamelia Angelova reported that the shelf life of a video is very short. Half the viewers of a YouTube.com video come in the first six days. 75% of the viewers are within the first 20 days. Of course, there’s going to be a long tail, in which your video gets a few hits/day for a long time. But if you want a high level of sustained interest, you might want to consider a series of videos, distributed 1-3 weeks apart.

There is precedence in the online world for multiple marketing messages. Often marketers use an auto-responder to set up a series of messages which are automatically sent to an email list at specified intervals. For example, you might sign up for an camera site’s newsletter because they promise to send a series of three tutorials on taking portraits with a digital camera. You sign up and get your first issue of the newsletter right away, along with a second email that contains the first tutorial. The second and third tutorials turn up at one week intervals. These automated deliveries are via an auto-responder.

The idea behind auto-responder messages is to build your audience’s trust in your ability to offer something valuable on a long term basis.

How can you adapt this idea to a series of videos? Here’s an example of how you might plan a series of eight book trailers; while I’m suggesting a wide variety of options, you should decide on a specific goal for each video. Change it or adapt these as needed for your situation. Also, I’d suggest that you create about half of these before the book is released; be flexible about the others and create and distribute them as needed to publicize awards, give updated information, display fan’s reactions, etc.

  • Video 1. The overall story is explained in the first book trailer. This would be the traditional book trailer that gives a plot and character teaser. The Wayfinder Video
  • Video 2. The second trailer, however, is targeted to specific audiences and why they might relate to the book. If it’s a story about an athlete competing in track and field events, you may want to tape at a track and appeal to the athletic interests of your audience. Or, this time use a lot of testimonies from fans and reviews. This trailer has military personnel talking about how much they enjoyed Craig M. Mullhaney’s book, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education. Book Trailer – “The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education”
  • Video 3. By now, your audience is somewhat familiar with the story. This is the time to tell a story: about yourself, the idea behind the story, etc.
  • Video 4. With this video, let your audience know about any extra materials to go with the story: teacher’s guides, book club guides, free computer wallpaper, online games, book marks, etc. Be sure to mention the various formats of the book in this trailer, too: Kindle, iTunes, paperback, audio, etc. It’s also a good time to offer a discount coupon for a very limited time; setting a time clock ticking encourages response. Here, Neil Gaman talks about buttons: It’s a book trailer for his book & movie, Coraline.
  • Video 5. If your book is nonfiction, take time here to answer any questions that you’ve received. Where did you find the original source materials for your research? Will this how-to book help me do such and so? I’m confused about the time-line, can you clear it up for me? Or, give advice, for example, to young writers, as Neil Gaman does.
  • Video 6. For the sixth trailer, let your readers talk for you: interview readers about their responses. Or, highlight fan videos, quote from reviews. Another idea is for you to read from the story. Or attend a conference and ask a person there to read a paragraph, then give it to another person for the next section and so on until a good sample is recorded. Here, Eoin Colfer reads from The 7th Dwarf (World Book Day 2004)
  • Video 7. What have you been dying to tell your audience? Maybe you want to explain the dedication, the illustrations, tell the story of how you sold the book, or just look the camera in the eye and tell readers thanks for reading. Or, wrap up the series with a recap of the most important things about your story. Another option is to provide links to related sites. See, Neil Gaiman’s Worst Comic Book Characters of All Time
  • Video 8. Look ahead to the next book in the pipeline and give them a hook that leaves the viewer wanting more. Or, maybe by now, you’ve got great news of awards that your book has won.

It’s fine to include a mix of polished trailers with informal trailers that you tape as events unfold. YouTube.com has proven that audiences respond to great content, regardless of the production quality. Just keep promoting the trailers in every online and offline venue possible.

While you’re thinking about doing one book trailer, you should also think about doing a series. After all, each trailer will give you more experience and they can only get better. And a series will keep your book in the audience’s mind for a longer time.

Example of using more than one Book Trailer:

  1. Million Dollar Throw trailer by Mike Lupica This trailer is a teaser for the story.
  2. Mike Lupica author video, Million-Dollar Throw The author talks about character relationships.
  3. Million Dollar Throw Today Show. Lupica appears on the TV show.

See other Prairie Storm Videos:

  1. STORMS: A Chant of Months
  2. PRAIRIE STORMS: Sounds of the Prairies

Read more about The Book Trailer Manual

Read: Voice and Book Trailers

Sometimes I write for other places or other places talk about my books. Here are some links for your reading pleasure.

2012 Writer’s Market

This year’s market guide–the best in the industry–includes my article on Book Trailers. Based on my experience writing The Book Trailer Manual, the article talks about the pros/cons of book trailers, how to create them and options for the content of your trailers. You can see my book trailers on my YouTube Darcy Pattison channel.

Voice: A Conversation of Many

Author Bobbi Miller has put together a great conversation on Voice in this presentation: A Conversation of Many: What is Voice Anyway?
Besides my take on voice, read what these authors, editors and professionals have to say: Cheryl Klein, Kathi Appelt, Adam Gidwitz, Eric Kimmel, Nathan Brandsford, Emma Dryden and many more.

Reviews of Prairie Storms


Many bloggers are talking about Prairie Storms.

Have you seen the Prairie Storms September Coloring Page?

Random Acts of Publicity 2011

RANDOM ACTS OF PUBLICITY WEEK

September 6-9, 2011
Facebook Event Page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=247495138609650

It’s all about your Friend’s book.

The 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, September 6-8, 2011 is a week to celebrate your Friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, link, Like, review, or talk about the book . (BLLuRT it Out!)

Daily posts here on Fiction Notes (www.darcypattison.com) will offer tips, wisdom and Prizes for your Friend!
Twitter: Use #RAP2011

September 6: Guest Susan Raab

“Brand Building Square One” by Susan Raab, President of Raab Associates, www.raabassociates.com.
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win one of 15 FREE Giveaways of a 15-minute book marketing consultation provided by Raab Associates.

September 7: Guests Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy

Many Hands Make Light Work – or How Two Heads are Better than One by Barbara Fisch and Sarah Shealy, Blue Slip Media, www.blueslipmedia.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a 15-minute book marketing consultation provided by Blue Slip Media.

September 8: Guest Deborah Sloan

Create Buzz by Connecting with Readers by Deborah Sloan of Deborah Sloan & Company. www.deborahsloanandcompany.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a one-hour book marketing consultation provided by Deborah Sloan & Company.

September 9: Guest Dana Lynn Smith

How to Get Your Book Reviewed by Dana Lynn Smith of The Savvy Book Marketer. www.thesavvybookmarketer.com
One-day chance for you to enter your Friend to win a FREE copy of How to Get Your Book Reviewed by Dana Lynn Smith

ALL WEEK: The Book Trailer Manual

Post your Friend’s name/book title on the Facebook page for Random Acts of Publicity to be entered to win a FREE The Book Trailer Manual by Darcy Pattison. One ebook given away daily; must post Friend’s name that day to be eligible and you can post it each day if you like.

NOTE: You may not enter your own name in any of these prize giveaways. By posting a person’s name you acknowledge that you have asked their permission and the post is with their knowledge. Please note carefully WHERE to comment for each giveaway. They all require you to comment on the POST at Fiction Notes (www.darcypattison.com). The EXCEPTION is the ongoing drawing for The Book Trailer Manual; for this giveaway and this one only, please post on the Random Acts of Publicity Facebook page.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who can participate?
    Anyone who wants to help a book get noticed by readers. We are focusing on helping a Friend’s book get noticed, but you can also choose to help your favorite book get noticed.
  2. What do I do?
    BLLuRT or Post. Or both.

    1. BLLuRT (http://bit.ly/RAoP2011). The basic tasks for book marketing online remain the same, BLLuRT! Do one of these each day for your Friend’s book or for your favorite book.

      • B is for Blog. Blog about a book, the author or anything related.
      • L is for Link. (http://bit.ly/RAP-Link) Link to something about the book, the author’s page, the book selling page, anything.
      • L is for LIKE. (http://bit.ly/RAP-Like ) LIKE the book’s Facebook page, the author’s page. Or Add them to your Google+.
      • R is for Review. (http://bit.ly/RAP-R ) Review a book. Some experts suggest that books tend to break out when they get over 25 reviews on Amazon, GoodReads or other booksites.
      • T is for Tell or Talk. (http://bit.ly/RAP-T )Tell someone about a book. Your friend, a teacher, a librarian, anyone. Talk about the book—why did you like it? What excited you about this book? Why should I read it?
    2. Post. It’s also a great week to post something about book marketing, perhaps a personal experience, a tutorial, a tips sheet. Put the URL of your post in the Random Acts of Publicity Facebook Event Page for others to read.
  3. What books should I talk about this week?
    Your Friend’s book or your favorite book. We are focusing especially on new books or less well-known books. Focus on a great book that not many readers know about.
  4. Can Publishers participate?
    Yes, you can BLLuRT about books, too. We ask that you focus on mid-list or new authors, those who could benefit from a boost during Random Acts of Publicity week. We know it’s your job to BLLuRT about the front-list, that and much more; as an individual working in book publishing, though, we are asking that you champion a dark horse during Random Acts of Publicity Week.



Random Acts of Publicity Week
was created by Darcy Pattison (www.darcypattison.com), writing teacher and author of Prairie Storms (www.facebook.com/PrairieStorms) , as a way to help create an atmosphere of fun and collaboration in marketing books. It occurs each September, the four days following Labor Day.

Where Did the Summer Go?

Where did July and August go?

Computer Woes. First, my server has been wonky for the last two weeks–apologies. If you have any difficulty getting to pages, please send me an email so I can straighten it out (darcy at darcypattison dot com).

Travel. For me, this summer included a great two-week trip to China. Our friend of ten years was getting engaged and invited us to the engagement party. Wow, what a great trip. So much to see and do–and we did all the usual things. Beijing in July was very smoggy. But we had a couple clear days to climb the Great Wall and see the Forbidden City. My favorite part was wandering the streets, as you’ll see in this video of a street vendor blowing a caramel-sugar pig:

Research (NOT!) After China, I did research (NOT!). My friend, Dori Butler won the Edgar award this year for the best children’s mystery for her series, The Buddy Files. (IF you haven’t read them, you need to!) She’s working on a new mystery–duh! And doing research: she’s recently shot a Taurus 380 and a Glock 22.40.

Why can’t I do cool research, I wondered? So, I went and had my throat slashed. Well, technically, they called it minor surgery as they took out my thyroid. But I now have the personal experience to go with Dori’s to write that mystery thriller. Hmmm. Maybe I don’t like research so much.

Back to Normal. But all it well here in the mid-South. And I’m back in the saddle with lots of plans for fall!

Plans for Fall.

  • Random Acts of Publicity: By Wednesday, I’ll have the complete info posted on this fun week when it’s “All About Your Friend’s Book.”
  • And I’m planning a September series on the Writer’s Voice.

So, how was YOUR summer? Any interesting trips, research, writing? Please share your good news!