Arkansas Literary Festival: Cocktails, Glossolalia, and Orphaned Pumas

Cocktail Party – Author! Author!

Friday night, I went to the Author! Author! party with Carla McClafferty, my author friend. We chatted with local radio celebrity, Ann Nicholson, host of KUAR’s Art Scene show.

Mcclafferty Nichols
Arkansas author, Carla McClafferty, and KUAR radio “Art Scene” host, Ann Nicholson.

Of course, they had good food.

Author! Author! Cocktail party at the AR Literary Festival.
Author! Author! Cocktail party at the AR Literary Festival.

Arkansas author Erica Taylor was accompanied to the party by her husband, Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor. Here’s his plate.

Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor's plate at the Author! Author! Cocktail party, AR Literary Festival.
Middleweight boxer Jermain Taylor’s plate at the Author! Author! Cocktail party, AR Literary Festival.

If you read my first blog post about the Arkansas Literary Festival, you know that I featured 71-year old Catherine Coutler’s legs. Here, I am confessing that I wrote about her; Carla, Catherine and I also tried to outdo each other by telling horror stories about author visits.

Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison talking with Catherine Coulter.
Arkansas author, Darcy Patti son talking with Catherine Coulter.

Catherine also talked about the process of working with co-writer J.T. Ellison on her new Brit in the FBI series. Like James Patterson and Clive Cussler, Catherine is looking to establish several ongoing series by using cowriters. She said that she firmly believes in paying a co-writer well; of course, being an instant NY Times bestseller is also an incentive for a co-writer. Catherine is usually a panster, writing with no outline. For this series, though, she and J.T. sat down and planned out the next 90 or so scenes and the story has pretty much stayed on track. It is possible to learn a new writing strategy, even after 70 books.

Would you be interested in co-writing with a NY Time best-selling author? Why or why not?

Speed Dating for Authors

For me, the second day of the Arkansas Literary Festival kicked off on Saturday with a Treasure Hunt at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, a gorgeous new facility dedicated to children’s literature and children.

We describe the Treasure Hunt as “speed-dating for authors.” Kids go from station to station, looking for clues, and of course, there is a treasure (snack and small gift) at the end. In the past, the speed dating has had ten minutes at each station, and then a bell rings to move kids to the next station. This time, kids were just set free to complete the treasure hunt at his/her own speed.

For authors, this didn’t work well and I hope we’ll go back to ten minute sessions next year. For example, one boy who was the right age for my ABAYOMI book breezed through, totally focused on gathering clues and getting the prize at the end. He was probably the first to finish in record time–but he saw none of the books and talked to no authors. If the setup had allowed ten minutes per station, he might have been pulled into a couple of great books that were unfamiliar to him.

Still–it was a great morning with kids, and I was so busy, I took no pictures.

Short Stories

I wanted to attend at least one session on Saturday and chose to go see David Jauss, author and writing teacher. He teaches at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Vermont College and is the author of one of the most amazing books on how-to-write: On Writing Fiction: Rethinking Conventional Wisdom About the Craft. His essay on point-of-view is unconventional, but brilliant. I used his ideas as the basis of a 3-post discussion of POV in The One and Only Ivan, winner of the 2013 Newbery. I had never met Jauss and wanted to hear him.

Jauss and author Cary Holladay were talking about short stories and both read interesting selections. Then, the moderator asked, “How do you know when a story is done?”

For Holladay, she intuitively knows when a story is done, because it wraps up something and just feels done. Jauss posed an interesting question. At first, he quipped, “A story is done when you die.”

But he went on to point out that some writers feel a published story should be archived at the moment of publication as an expression of where the writer was at that point of his/her career. However, Jauss feels its his duty to improve his stories each time it may be published. One short story has seen print about seven times in various journals or anthologies and each time, he tweaks it.

Where do you stand? After a story is published, would you tweak it again when it is republished?

Arkansas Author, David Jauss talking about his story story collection, Glossolalia
Arkansas Author, David Jauss talking about his story story collection, Glossolalia

Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma

For my author session about ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub, I was at the Witt Stephens Nature Center. Situated right on the Arkansas River, just a block east of the Main Library for the Central Arkansas Library System and a block west of the Clinton Presidential Library, it’s a jewel of a place that is dedicated to the wildlife in the state.

Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison discussing her new book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma.
Arkansas author, Darcy Pattison discussing her new book, Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma.

My last session was about self-publishing. As a hybrid author, I now have lots of sources and information for those just starting the indie process. Here’s my handout for the session. IndiePublishing-2014LitFestival.

I saw a tiny slice of the festival this year, which featured over 85 authors. Still, it was an intensive and fun two days and i am already looking forward to next year’s festival.

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