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Tag Archive: writing

Jan 15

Update January 2013

Dear Readers:

My friend Dan Poynter at Madman Graphics and I have been selecting and posting favorite Full Circle columns published between 2005 and 2012 in The Examiner, a daily newspaper serving Independence, Blue Springs, and Grain Valley, Missouri. Eventually, the goal is to publish a book of my favorite columns over the years. Since I wrote more than 300 columns, it is becoming a daunting task to compile favorites by subject matter.

However, as writer-blogger Neil Gaiman once quipped, “This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” Exactly what I am attempting to do at the moment.

Once the book of columns is complete, I will begin tackling the book I really want to write, a World War II memoir. Since I guess I really want to read it, I had better get about the business of writing it. I’m paraphrasing Toni Morrison who said it much better than I when she wrote, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Happy reading everyone.

More as we go along,

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” –J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

May 10

Writing down the book in my head; it’s time

“The story I am writing exists in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it.” – Jules Renard, 1895

Did you ever receive a nudge from the universe, a feeling or a knowing that you absolutely must do something?

Well this week, I didn’t have a simple nudge, I had a shove, and it all had to do with writing a book that exists in “absolutely perfect fashion, some place in the air”.

I got the message—it’s time for me to write down that book, a true story that lives in my head.

The story begins in World War II along the border between northern Italy and what was then Yugoslavia, a politically volatile and dangerous area in which a third world war almost broke out. It’s a tale of unrequited love between a colonel and a Red Cross captain, of danger, redemption and reunion, core elements of any good ‘page turner’. I like to think of it as a blend of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Bridges of Madison County.”

But let’s back up to March of this year when I wrote a column about entering “Pitchapalooza Redux – The Book Doctors Return”, a contest sponsored by Rainy Day Books at Unity on the Plaza. There a panel of publishing experts gave a limited number of participants one minute to pitch their book ideas. Think of it as American Idol for books, if you will.

Suffice to say, I didn’t win the prize, a meeting with a publisher. However, I was awarded a 20-minute telephone interview (that happened this week) with the “Book Doctors”, a husband and wife author-agent team.

Enter the nudge; no make that a shove, from the universe.

“The Book Doctors’ actually remembered my pitch from Pitchapalooza on the Plaza. One of them, after giving the promised guidance and advice, asked me to submit my manuscript. That was not promised by them and never expected on my part.

“Uh, manuscript,” I mumbled?

“This book exists “some place in the air’, but is not on paper yet,” I admitted with just a little bit of embarrassment.

And thus began 20 minutes of clear, bullet-point guidance from ‘The Book Doctors’ who made it so much easier for me to figure out how to begin, what to send to them, even if it is only a chapter or two, and how to organize the book. They will wait on me, and therein lies the ‘shove’.

When I wrote the column in March about my Pitchapalooza experience, I quoted award-winning novelist Toni Morrison who once said, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

And so, I guess I will, or at the very least, I will try.

With that dear readers, I must tell you that I have decided to take a leave from writing my weekly column. Let’s call it a hiatus, “a break in something where there should be continuity.” I wish I could provide that continuity, but for now I will need to take a step back from writing Full Circle in order to devote my full creative energy to the book. Let’s just blame it on aging and not being able to do multiple things at once anymore. Those of you of a certain age will completely understand.

The Examiner has graciously agreed to this plan and will run some of my favorite archived Full Circle columns as we go along. And from time to time, I will check in with an update on the progress of the book. And, you can always find selected archived columns and future updates on my blogsite at www.kayhoflander.com.

It will be an arduous journey, writing down that book in my head, but it’s time.

Mar 22

Everyone has a book in them

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

Nearly every one of us at some point in our lives has said, “I am going to write a book about that.”

Most of us never do.

Yet, the romantic notion remains for some of us. It is the doing, however, that is our bugaboo.

Pitchapalooza to the rescue!

This week I took a ‘leap of faith’ and attended “Pitchapalooza Redux – The Book Doctors Return”, sponsored by Rainy Day Books at Unity on the Plaza.

Yes, I have a book idea, one that has simmered for quite awhile.

At “Pitchapalooza”, panel of publishing experts give a limited number of participants one minute to pitch their book ideas. Think of it as Shark Tank, ABC reality television show in which amateur business entrepreneurs pitch their plan to successful business magnates. Contestants hope that they will get a ‘leg up’ on the competition from these shark-like moguls, but mostly are pitching for big time investment cash.

Or, think of Pitchapalooza as American Idol for books, not as lively granted, but for authors, just as good.

Typically, one would go prepared for such an event and write out one’s one-minute pitch ahead of time.

I did not.

Truth is, I was not planning on making a pitch so I came unprepared. Nevertheless, the excitement of the moment pushed me to sign my name on the list, the last one of 25 would-be authors to make a 60-second speech.

I sat there for an hour-and-a-half with my good friend watching 24 writers go before me. They were good.

Other writers brought notes, laptops and iPads from which to read their pitch.

In our precious minute, we were advised to include the type of book we wanted to pitch, for example, an historical novel, a personal memoir, biography or how-to book.

The panel admonished us that we must give the plot, explain who’s story it is, describe characters, show the panel we can write and let them know what is new and different about what we have to say in 60 seconds.

That is a tall order even if one is prepared. If one isn’t, let us just say it is not for the ‘faint of heart’.

As we watched the participants give well-prepared pitches selling their ideas strongly and effectively, my friend begged me to write something down. “Hurry,” she said, “it’s not too late. You can write something down at least before they call you. Try and make a list of key points.”

She was right, of course, but I could not focus and knew I had no choice but to wing it. Nerves had already set in.

When it was my turn, I stepped to the mic as the last wannabe on the program and began setting up my book idea, giving the basic plot, and a little about the characters as I tried to beat the clock.

I went too long.

To my surprise however, my story idea seemed to touch the audience and spawned a series of questions from the panel ending in a rousing round of applause from throughout the auditorium.

The panel of publishing experts sent me home with this stern advise–go home tonight and make the changes we suggest because you must write this book now.

Long story short—a published author won the evening’s contest after giving a perfect pitch about her next book in the exact amount of time allotted. Her well-deserved prize won her a meeting with a publisher.

The rest of us were awarded a 20-minute consultation with literary agent Arielle Eckstut and husband and author of 13 books, David Henry Sterry. The pair published “The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published” in 2010 and currently consult with folks like me and speak at events around the country similar “Pitchapalooza”.

If you, too, have a book idea burning inside you, please let me know. I would love to hear your 60-second pitch, but a word of advise first, you might want to write it down.

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