Getting Ready for Tucson

This coming Thursday, I’ll heading out to Arizona for the (Fourth?) annual Tucson Festival of Books. For the third year in a row, I’ll be selling my books during a two-hour stretch on Saturday March 15. You can find me at Authors’ Pavillion East from 2 to 4 p.m. This year for the first time I’ll be able to take credit card payments.

While it’s always fun to discover new readers (as well as meet friends who have bought books from me in the past at this event), I’m probably more excited about the workshops I’ll be taking in during the two day festivity. Looking forward to hearing Ben Bova, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Bear, Andre Dubus III, Richard Russo, et al. Learn more at Tucson Festival.

Because I can’t be in two places at once, I’ll be missing another Thursday critique session at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Our circle of writers has had a number of successes lately, including the nomination of Sarah Pinsker for a Nebula for her novella “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Beyond” and publication of her short story “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide” in the March/April issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. Congrats Sarah.

When I return to Maryland I’ll be anxiously preparing to pitch my young adult novel “The Chains of Time” to three literary agents on Saturday March 29 at the Washington Independent Review of Books one-day writers’ workshop. I’ve been working on that novel for more than ten years (although only giving it full focus starting this past fall). Any hope I have of getting that picked up belongs to Lori Roy and the 11 other workshop participants this past January at the Eckerd College Writers in Paradise conference, to the members of the BSFS critique circle, to several individual critique partners, and my most reliable proof-reader (B.B.S.)––all of whom have provided valuable feedback.

What’s “The Chains of Time” about, you may be wondering? It’s a story about family and friendship, about loyalty and courage, but most of all it’s about resilience. Therefore, perhaps it’s a story for our own time even though it is set in an alternative world. It’s also a story for men and women because there are male and female characters to root for, for young adults (age 13 and up) because the main characters are aged 12 and up, and for people who like adventure and romance and a book you can get lost in.

P.S.: A note for fiction writers: I’m recommending two books you’ll want to pick up if you are looking for inspiration and concrete advice.

For inspiration read, Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. This book is especially important for young writers because it will give you the backstory to your genre that will deepen your appreciation of the novel as an art form, as well as give you a long list of must-read books.

The second book is the 2013 edition of David Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines. I’ve been a Farland fan for many years and was pleased to come across this book which offers a great deal of practial insights and advise, not just for those who hope to make a million dollars from their books–an ambition which IMHO smacks of hubris, but for any writer who seeks a larger audience.

That’s the story from Elkridge, Maryland–a whistlestop on the highway of life. I hope to see some of you next weekend in Tucson, Az.

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