National Book Festival 2009

As many of you may have heard, The National Book Festival 2009 commences this weekend–Saturday, Sept. 26.

Mom and I will be going to see the following authors, though there may be some conflicts. . . we’ll work it out.

In the poetry pavilion:

10 to 10:30 AM Julia Glass, a poet
10:30 to 11 AM Valerie Martinez, a poet
11 to 11:30 AM Edward Hirsch, a poet
11:30 to 12 PM Poetry Out Loud
12 to 12:45 PM Kay Ryan, a poet and U.S. Poet Laureate
4:15 to 5 PM Tim O’Brien, author of some of the best Vietnam War literature out there.

In the mystery and thriller pavilion:

12:55 to 1:25 PM James Patterson
2:40 to 3:10 PM George Pelecanos
3:15 to 3:45 PM Lisa Scottoline

In the fiction and fantasy pavilion:

10 to 10:55 AM John Grisham
11 to 11:30 AM Jodi Picoult
2:10 to 2:55 PM John Irving
3 to 3:30 PM Nicolas Sparks

In the teens and children pavilion:

11:45 to 12:15 PM Paula Deen
5 to 5:30 PM Judy Blume

Signings we are thinking about are for the poets; those will be easy since those are separate from the traditional author signings. The other signings, though we may not make these are:

11 to 12 PM James Patterson
11:30 to 12:30 PM George Pelecanos
12 to 1 PM Nicholas Sparks
12:30 to 1:30 PM Jodi Picoult
1 to 2 PM Lisa Scottoline
1 to 2 PM Paula Deen
2:30 to 3:30 PM Tim O’Brien

What authors are on your schedule?

Mr. Bear Visits NYC & BEA Wrap-Up

If you missed Anna’s wrap-up of Book Expo America, go check it out for Mr. Bear’s first jaunts into New York City.

Amtrak Travel

The Amtrak trip from Washington, D.C., to New York City was surprisingly smooth, even Mr. Bear enjoyed himself. Check out his perch. He got bored and hungry during the trip, so we took him to the cafe car for a snack. Then he got a little crazy with Anna, check out these shots of him. Or maybe, its Anna getting fresh with Mr. Bear?

Cafe Car Amtrak

Bear Love

Once in NYC, we headed to the Javits Center after dropping our bags off at the hotel, and Mr. Bear had a great time on the bus.

Bear on Bus

After his long day with us at the Expo, we took him to the BEATweetUp. Back at the hotel, you can tell Mr. Bear was just as exhausted as we were.

Bear Rough Night

It was great meeting all our “imaginary” friends–Amy of My Friend Amy, Alea of Pop Culture Junkie, Kathy of Bermudaonion, Julie of Booking Mama, Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books, Natasha of Maw Books, and many others.

I took some great shots of the buildings around the hotel, of the great bloggers we met, Times Square, and many other places, check out the photo set on Flickr, here.

Friday, Anna and I didn’t want to plan because we didn’t know exactly what time we would get into NYC, so we started off on the exhibition floor and ran into Cornel West speaking on one of the stages. My pictures of Cornel West did not come out as well as I had hoped, but the autograph on his book, Hope on a Tightrope, looks fantastic.

Anna and I didn’t really listen to any of the panels this year, just went to author signings, listened to Brother West, and the Book Blogger Panel. Check out the Book Blogger Panel:

Anna and I came out of our shells and met some great publicists, PR people, authors, and others at BEA. We handed out our business cards and hope that we made some great personal connections even if we only met these people briefly–from Lisa Roe, who is bubbling over with energy, to Miriam Parker of Hachette, who is professional, fun, and enthusiastic, to everyone else who introduced themselves. It was great meeting every one in person, and they are exactly who you think they are when you meet them in person. I want to send a special thanks to Dawn of She Is Too Fond of Books for letting Anna and I stay with her in NYC.

Check out the Hubbub Around the Blogosphere feature to the right for more BEA discussions and wrap-ups. I’ll try to update them regularly.

Did you got to BEA? What was your plan? If you go to BEA 2010, will you have a plan?

Don’t forget these great giveaways:

1 copy of Reunion by Therese Fowler, here; Deadline is June 4, 2009, 11:59 PM EST

1 copy of Holly’s Inbox by Holly Denham, here; Deadline is June 10, 2009, 11:59 PM EST

Conversations & Connections 2009 Recap

Well, it’s been more than one week since I attended the one-day writer’s conference–Conversations & Connections, in Washington, D.C. You can find my previous posts about the conference here and here. I do have a few photos to share with everyone as well.

They changed up a few things for this year’s conference, adding craft lectures for beginning writers on sentence structure, sex scenes, and combating writer’s block. There was an early snafu, but I think the organizers adapted well and filled in the vacant space left by Amy Hempel, the scheduled featured speaker.

Anna and I headed to the first panel on Juggling Point of View, which was populated with writers/teachers and authors. While I did learn quite a bit about the techniques to use in my stories and novel concerning how to choose a point of view that fits the story I am telling, most of the information I gleaned from the session came from just two of the panelists. C.M. Mayo (she is second from the right in the photo), author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, provided the most clear-cut information to the audience. She teaches workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md., so that may have given her an edge on the other panelists. (I’ll be hosting a tour for her book next month! And it was great to chat with her for a bit in person and tell her about my spot on her virtual tour.)

As writers, Anna and I were very interested in the Writer’s Block craft lecture and what techniques we could learn and use to keep ourselves in the writing groove. What I found most intriguing is that one of the exercises, which is based upon a parlor game, is something we have done at parties with friends. It was amusing to hear someone teach this in a craft lecture. The concept is simple. You start with one sentence and as the paper makes its way around the room (or in our case most of the time, as the laptop makes it across the room), each person adds their own sentence based upon the previous sentence. The trick is you can’t look too far back and you don’t know what comes next. Other techniques included borrowing phrases, words, and whole sentences from some of your own favorite works and mashing them up into your own paragraph; this wasn’t as effective for me. And the age-old, use these 3-4 words in your own story and you will write for 5 minutes or so. It’s interesting to see how people use the same four words in a story. I have to say that these exercises warmed up my writing brain, and I was ready to go…but unfortunately, there was more conference to be had!

We went to lunch at Bertucci’s because again we could not locate Chipotle….though we did find the Portuguese Embassy! Then we headed back to the conference for speed dating with editors, and I got some great advice from an editor at The Potomac Review about my novel and where it should lead off. I didn’t get to use Anna’s pass because we bumped into an old colleague and poet, Gregg Mosson. Naturally, I had him sign his book, which was one of the free book choices at this year’s conference, and we chatted about what was going on in our lives. It was great to catch up and learn about his good fortunes.

After this interlude, it was off to the main room for the “featured speaker who wasn’t.” Instead, we got a real treat, listening to Gregg read his poems and Susan McCallum-Smith read from her short story book. It was a great addition to the lineup and I hope they think about replacing the featured speaker with this format instead.

It was equally great to hear the impromptu readers answer questions about their books, publishing experience, and goals.

Dave Housley from Barrelhouse magazine led the readings and the question-and-answer session that followed. I think everyone in the audience could tell that he was none too happy that the featured speaker cancelled the morning of the event.

The final session of the day, other than the end of conference Book Fair, was on Writing Sex Scenes. This was the best of the sessions for me. I learned a great deal about when sex plays a role in a story and when it is simply in there for no reason other than the writer was carried away. It was great to see the difference between a coming of age sex scene and one that is based upon relationships–the instructors were really fantastic at showing what nuances in the scene expressed something about the emotions of the characters.

As I’m sure you all realized by my last Mailbox Monday, I did indeed by something at the book fair. I couldn’t resist Reb Livingston’s poetry book. Overall, we had a great time and are looking forward to next year’s conference and BEA, if we can get there.

Speaking of BEA, anyone live nearby? Anna and I are not that familiar with NYC, so we’d appreciate some advice, looks like the cheapest will be for us to fly into Long Island Airport…Any thoughts? Drop me an email.

***Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter The Traitor’s Wife giveaway, here and here.

I’m Off to Conversations & Connections

Anna and I are headed to Conversations and Connections tomorrow, so I will not be online tomorrow until late in the evening.

The writer’s conference is sold out again this year, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.

I’ll be back to post my poem for the poem-a-day challenge and let you in on all the goodies.

Have a great Saturday everyone.

Writing Goal Week #13

The last writing goal was to write some newer poems for Marked issue of Blossombones or some new poems for any reason. Not feeling very inspired these days with all the bad economic news, the closure of newspapers across the country, and other personal events. However, the best month of the year is coming, and I feel the tide turning.

Writing Goal Week #13

The distractions continued this week, but I have a new motivator beginning in the middle of this week. I will be joining the Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides to provide me with additional incentive to get some poetic verse written, especially since April is National Poetry Month. Check out the list of judges for the PAD Challenge, and you’ll notice a familiar name; I interviewed Mary Biddinger, here.


I couldn’t get away with not mentioning National Poetry Month, which starts April 1.

The American Academy of Poets has some great information on the festivities, including how to get kids interested in poetry and poetry readings. You can even download a copy of the poster image “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe,” which I think is a fantastic creation.

Check out the list of events the academy has embarked upon since 1998. There is a list of events for 2009 on the main page as well, including Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day on April 30, 2009, the Free Verse Photo Project, and the National Poetry Map, where you can look up your state and get a list of events, journals, and other poetic tools near you. Check it out, become active this month!

Here’s what’s going on for National Poetry Month here at Savvy Verse & Wit:

1. There will be a swath of contemporary poetry book reviews this month, though I do have some fiction tour dates already scheduled for the month, so it won’t be all poetry.

2. I will provide you updates on my PAD Challenge progress and other poetry events happening in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

3. The poet interviews should continue this month as well in conjunction with 32 Poems. I urge you to subscribe to the magazine if you have enjoyed the poetry posted with this project and the interviews.

4. There will be updates about the upcoming Conversations and Connections Writer’s Conference in Washington, D.C. on April 11 and of course, the recap.

Our first Poetry related event, and its not even April:

Writer’s Center, Bethesda, MD, Event, Sunday, March 29 at 2PM:

Poets Richard Blanco, author of “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” and “City of a Hundred Fires,” and Jehanne Dubrow, author of “The Hardship Post”

I interviewed Jehanne Dubrow recently, here.

Conversations and Connections Writer’s Conference, D.C.

Remember that great recap post from last year’s Conversations & Connections writer’s conference in Washington, D.C.?

Well, you can expect another one this year. Anna and I have registered for this year’s conference, which is going to have many of the great features it had last year.

Where is it located?

Johns Hopkins University Advanced Writing Program campus
1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C. (Near DuPont Circle)

When do I need to be there?

April 11, 2009; Registration starts at 8:30 AM

Why do I need to be there?

Not only will you be exposed to some great writing advice from some of the authors and poets you love, but there will be time to buy books at the book fair, show your work to literary journal editors to solicit their advice, and network with great bloggers, like Anna and myself, and others in the industry. This may be the first time I get to meet Deborah Ager of 32 Poems in person; she and I have been working on poet interviews over the last several months.

What’s the line up?

Craft lectures are available as choices for each of the three sessions from writing sex scenes to fighting writer’s block with experimental prompts.

The three sessions also have a number of panel discussions to choose from, including juggling multiple points of view in a novel, creative nonfiction, and the inner workings of an agency.

Don’t forget speed dating with literary journal editors where they will provide feedback on your written work.

And of course, there is the featured speaker, Amy Hempel.
Check out the list of speakers, here.

What’s the cost? $55, which gives you a one-year subscription to a literary magazine, the conference sessions, featured speaker, one speed dating session with an editor, and one book.