Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
May 2nd, 2014

Back to Book Passage

This summer, I’ll be returning to the Book Passage Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference. I am really excited for this, and looking forward to some inspiration. Ever since my writing group broke up, almost a year ago now, I’ve been working in isolation—the writer’s usual state. Being surrounded by other people with a positive vibe—that’s what the Book Passage writing conferences are all about.

Logo by Book Passage CWIC

 

They offer two other conferences—one for mystery writers, and another for travel writers and photographers. Marin County is a beautiful part of Northern California, just outside of San Francisco. It’s a lovely, warm place to spend a long weekend—great food, great people, and lots and lots of books. I can’t wait!

 

August 13th, 2012

Holding Pattern

Ever since I got back from a week of camping (bliss: no cell phone or Wi-Fi access!), I haven’t been writing, or promoting, or much of anything. I’ve been reading, trying to find a book that will hold my attention and get me jazzed, but that’s been tough too. As far as writing goes, I’m at a bit of a standstill. I finished a draft of a children’s chapter book, and my first readers (my kid and the husband) gave it a thumbs up. My writing group will critique it later this week, and I’m going to a workshop in a couple of weeks at Book Passage with Amy Novesky, so I hope to get some good insight there as well.

What I Did on Summer Vacation
What I Did on Summer Vacation

Here’s the brutal truth: sales have slowed way down on The Flower Bowl Spell. I know I can only hold myself responsible for that. Most sales have been to friends, family, and the occasional acquaintance. I doubt a total stranger has bought the book (not counting the freebies downloaded during E-book Week on Smashwords back in March). If I could “break in” to the stranger market—sounds weird, I know—then maybe sales would take off. But for now, I’m dialing back promotion because it hasn’t really paid off. I did two blog tours this summer, working my butt off writing guest blog posts and answering interview questions and visiting the host blogs. Yet there wasn’t a pick-up in book sales.

Consequently, at this point I can’t justify the cost (editing, book cover) it would take to put out a second book. I’m in a wait-and-see mode. A holding pattern.
Part of this limbo has to do with my non-author life. My kids are about to head back to school, which means soon there will be more of a routine in place for us all (although more stress as we navigate homework and after-school activities, among other things). Another part is my freelance-writer life, and thank goodness it’s alive and kicking to help with the bills, etc.

Things are bound to change—of course I want to put out a second book! Most likely it will be a short-story collection, because that’s what is the most ready and polished. I also hope to query agents about the children’s chapter book sooner than later. I would love for it to be out there, published by a traditional press that can support it as a series.

We shall see. Time will tell. It always does.

July 1st, 2012

Upcoming Bewitching Book Tour

Crazy times, folks, but guess what? I’ve actually been writing. Remember all that gushing I did over the Book Passage Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference? Well, it actually paid off, creatively.

On the third day of the conference, as I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin, the idea for a children’s book came to me. I won’t write too much about it, since I’m not quite finished with the first draft, but I’ll say this: It’s a chapter book for a young middle reader, and I actually have an ending.

*Fireworks!!!*

You might ask, what’s the big deal? Ho ho ho! Writing endings, at least among the writers I know, is notoriously difficult. Sure, a great idea and an even better beginning—that’s a cake walk! The middle part, the journey, the getting there—totally fun. Full steam ahead. But the ending…How to tie up the bow on these literary gifts? Ah…Well, why would we want our journey to end? I could wax philosophical about novel endings and how they perhaps are symbols for dying and death (right…), but never mind all that. Let’s just say, writing endings sucks. But lo and behold, this current project already has an ending (in my head!), and I’m already making a list of possible adventures for my protagonists (a series! a series!).

So, that’s why I haven’t been so good with the blog. Apologies. BUT…

TheFlowerBowlSpell

 

My second book blog tour with Bewitching Book Tours begins July 9 and runs through July 23, for two weeks. I’m ramping up for it (giveaways! interviews! guest blogs! reviews!) so there will be many Tweets and Posts on FB soon. Get ready to be inundated with promo mojo.

Oh, and a Happy 4th of July. Eat a hot dog or two—it’s bad for you in a good way.

June 20th, 2012

Back from the Writers’ Conference

Last week, I attended the Book Passage Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference in Corte Madera, California. I can’t even beginning to express how much I got out of this. I went as a lark, to be honest—I “won” the spot by bidding on it at my daughter’s school’s silent auction fundraiser in the spring. The timing of the conference was actually tough—we had already planned my son’s birthday party for that weekend and I had to miss his preschool’s year-end party. Plus I was in the first week of my ABG Reads Book Blog Tour. But is there ever really the perfect time for such things? Not in my world.

YA and picture book author Andrea Alban

So I went to the conference without any expectations or any preparation. I didn’t know any of the faculty except for one agent and Annie Barrows, an author whose Ivy & Bean series my daughter loves (so do her parents—it’s very readable for an adult audience). I have the beginning sh*tty first draft of a young adult prequel to The Flower Bowl Spell, and since there were workshops on YA, I felt completely justified in going. As it turns out Kristen Tracy‘s workshop on writing the beginning of a YA novel was so helpful, I can barely stand it! And Annie Barrows’ insights into the minds of middle grade readers (ages 8 to 11 according to most experts), got me thinking about writing my own middle grade/first chapter book. In fact, I started drafting one yesterday!

Children's Book Editors Joanne Chan Taylor and Dana Goldberg

In addition, there were picture book authors and illustrators, as well as editors and agents. I missed all  of the agent panels due to my son’s party. Andy Ross and I exchanged index cards during a writing exercise run by Lissa Rovetch. Mine read, “Styron—chartreuse—teacher—sadness.” His had “Frank—green—financial analyst—greed.” Go ponder that. I was kind of bummed to miss the talk on self-publishing and promotion through social networking and tweeting. I did ask the advice of Kathryn Otoshi, a self-published picture book author/illustrator, about balancing her time, and she broke it down very practically into a kind of mental pie chart of 24 hours. How much do I need for sleep, eating, family, work, errands, and how much is left over for me? What then, of that time, will I use for my writing and what for promo? So basic, but that’s what makes hearing it so great.

And really, that’s what the conference was all about. I’ve written fiction seriously for 20 years. I know a lot of this stuff about the craft of writing, the ineffable stuff, the nuts and bolts stuff. But sometimes, it’s good to pay attention to what methods work for others. It’s a recharge of the creative batteries. And I even made some new friends.

 

June 10th, 2012

a few exciting things

So much going on! Here’s a list:

  1. My friends Martha and Tom threw a party in their beautiful home to launch the paperback version of The Flower Bowl Spell. I also did my first official reading from the book in this venue. As opposed to workshopping it. Wow, it felt good to crack open a copy of the book, bend back the cover, and try to make an audience chuckle again!
  2. Colette of ABG Reads Book Blog Tours put together a fun, amazing book trailer. It’s on YouTube. Find it by clicking here. Share it, like it, and watch it a few times just for kicks.
  3. My ABG Reads Book Blog Tour starts tomorrow! For more information, click here, but I’ve copied the schedule below as well. I hope the links work.
    June 14   A Buckeye Girl Reads-  Excerpt
    June 15-Amys Booket List- Review
    June 16- Amys Booket List- Guest Post
    June 18- A Buckeye Girl Reads- Guest Post
    June 19- Hanging With Bells- Feature
    June 20- Hanging With Bells- Guest Post
    June 21-   Col Reads
    June 23-  Possession Of Books  Review
                   For The Love of Film And Novels-Guest Post
    June 25-  boeklogboek  Review
  4. On Thursday, June 14, I’m heading up to Marin to the Book Passage Children Writer’s & Illustrators Conference. I really hope to get a lot out of this as I draft the young adult prequel to The Flower Bowl Spell. I’m also excited in a fanboy sort of way to meet Annie Barrows. My daughter adores her Ivy & Bean series. :D
  5. On a personal note, my son turns 4 tomorrow. He’s our sweet little guy, and I don’t want to forget his special day in all of this. Four years ago today, I was lying in a hospital room on day 11 of bed-rest, my water having broke 8 weeks too soon, I was hoping to incubate him a while longer. He was born the next morning, small at 4 lbs. and some change, but strong. Today, he’s our intelligent, thoughtful, easy-going boy, and my inspiration to live life everyday with wonder, curiosity, and gratitude.

OK, I’m going to go watch Captain America now (Here’s a shout out to grad school comrades Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, who are the movie’s screenwriters). Visit the tour, tell your friends, and thank you so much for continuing to read this blog. Please leave a comment if you feel inclined. I haven’t had one in ages, and I’m wondering if the function is working.

May 20th, 2012

The Flower Bowl Spell Blog Tour

Mark your calendars all you readers, bloggers, and the like, because I’m taking The Flower Bowl Spell on our first virtual blog tour. After much research, I engaged the amazing Colette, who has run her A Buckeye Girl Reads blog for three years and recently launched a book blog touring company. She’s been fantastic, absolutely approachable and helpful, and the experience has been completely painless. (Thank you, Colette!) Right now, she’s scheduling bloggers to host and there will probably be a variety of fun activities, from excerpts to interviews to reviews to me guest blogging to giveaways, so check back often to see where the book or I will be in the blogosphere. The tour will run from June 11 to 25, 2012.

Click here to go to my special tour page!

ABG Reads Badge

And perhaps I’m absolutely coo-coo, but for part of the time I’m on tour, I’ll be attending workshops and lectures at the Book Passage Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference at the unsurpassed Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, California. For years, I’ve been a fan of Book Passage and always wanted to attend one of their incredible conferences. I “won” this spot at a fundraising auction held at my daughter’s school, and I couldn’t be more psyched (that’s 1980s teenager speak for delighted). It’s been at least three years since I attended a writers’ conference, and I’m looking forward to getting immersed in a world where people intensely care about writing and reading. And since I’m working (I use that word loosely) on a young adult prequel to The Flower Bowl Spell, the conference couldn’t come at a better time to get those creative juices flowing. Click here to find out more about Book Passage.