Author Archives: Jen Talty
Neither Bob or I were planning on attending Thrillerfest this year. My spring and summer are filled with lots of change. My daughter joined the Peace Corps and is now living in Madagascar. My youngest son just graduated from high school and we’re getting ready to send him off to his first semester of college all the while the middle boy moved back home for the summer. He’s got one more year in college and now plans on going to graduate school. So it’s been hectic. Bob just became a grandpa for the second time, so they have been super busy as well. We can’t be everywhere at once.
That said, as it got closer to Thrillerfest, it became apparent that one of us should go since our reps at Amazon and iBooks were looking to meet up with us as well as some of the board members of ITW. So, we decided I would go in for the day. Fly in first thing. Fly home last thing. Oy. That was a long day. Anyone who knows me understands that flying is not something I enjoy. Not even close. When Bob teaches his Write It Forward workshop, he always asks the group: what is the one thing you don’t want to do? He asks this question both in the context of writing and with your career. My answer: Fly. Then Bob says: that’s the one thing you have to do in order to succeed. So, I got on that plane.
Networking is so important. And not just with people from the platforms that sell our books, but other authors. You never know how the person standing behind you in line to register for the conference might turn out not only to be a good friend, but someone who might play a huge role in your career later on down the line. Who knew that Bob would end up chatting with me at a conference after his lecture about digital publishing, and then a year later, we’d be business partners.
But its not just networking at the conference. It’s also important to keep in contact via social media with some people that you have connected with. It doesn’t have to be every single person you met, but you know that feeling you get when you meet someone and you have an instant connection. And not necessarily the “big” name authors. You go to enough conferences, you start to see the same people over and over again. Publishing, for big business, is relatively small.
Jon Land, an ITW board member who just happens to be a good friend, reached out to Bob and I a few weeks ago, one of the reasons I got on that plane. I meet Jon years ago. He was kind enough to take me to breakfast and work with me on my pitch. I still frighten that poor man with my creepy story ideas. Anyway, he’s putting together a new track called CareerFest next year and would like Bob and I to come and give a workshop based on Bob’s book Write It Forward. We’re very excited about this because Bob and I are huge fans of author training. Craft is key and should always be the number one thing a writer focuses on. But as authors in today’s publishing climate, trad or indie, we are all running a business and often it is that part of being a successful author that is overwhelming and often hinders a writer from being successful. In order to succeed, we have to understand the business we are in, our choices, and then make the best decision for our career. Bob always talks about how no one ever taught him what it means to be a working author. Maybe back before the internet, an author could just write. But that isn’t the case. We have to market. We have to engage with our readers on a different level. The business is constantly changing and for the new author, or the midlist author, it can be very difficult to manage it all.
For those of you going to RWA this coming week, here are mine and Bob’s top ten checklist for attending a Conference take from: Writer’s Conference Guide: Getting the Most of Your Time and Money.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Ones you know will treat your feet right.
- Dress like a professional. You don’t have to wear a suit, but the normal writerly attire of sweats, T-shirt and bed hair is not acceptable.
- Don’t sit by yourself, ever.
- Say hello to whoever is next to you in line, at lunch or in a workshop.
- The best ice breaker ever: Ask authors what they are writing. Or what they are pitching to an editor or agent. Works every time.
- Never bring query letter, synopsis or manuscript unless it’s to red pen it while you’re in your room…except you won’t be in your room because you will be networking.
- Remember everyone there is a person before they are a best-selling author, an agent or editor.
- Take notes. Not just in a workshop, but when you are in your room after the day is done. Make a list of things you wished you had done, wished you hadn’t done, and write a summary of your overall experience. Makes for a good blog post if nothing else.
- Don’t ever tell an author you read their book when you didn’t.
- Most importantly, have fun.
So that takes care of everything but all things Hannibal. One of the great things about writer conferences is we can talk about our books without anyone thinking we’re nuts! Okay, well not entirely true as I was talking with Allison Brennan about my current problem with the book I’m working on titled: Taming Evil. I’m moving from the romance genre to straight suspense and I was telling Allison how hard that has been and how my pacing in my story is all off and I’m frustrated. So she started asking me questions, specifically, what is the story? My one liner right now is: Total Recall meets Hannibal in the female edition living like a Stepford Wife. I explain it a little bit more and tell her about one scene where the character who doesn’t know she’s a cannibal is serving up this fabulous meal at the neighborhood barbeque and well, she’s serving up the missing neighbor. Yeah. This is why Jon is a tad freighted of me and Allison loves me anyway.
Nothing but good times!
In 1960, Presidential Candidate John F. Kennedy tossed around the idea of a “new army” in his campaign. He mentioned this new army would be made up of civilians who would volunteer their time and skills to help underdeveloped nations. On March 1, 1961 Kennedy established the Peace Corps as a trail program and later that year it was made permanent.
We live in a world where we have instant access to information via the internet. We connect with people around the world via social media. Just about everything has become global and there is an APP for everything. Bob mentioned Road ID, a map to locate someone who is working out and might have gotten into an accident. There is an app to locate your phone, or someone else’s phone. I stalk my children all the time this way. I have an App for my new car where I can start my car remotely. It’s great when its freezing and snowing up here and I want a nice warm car after working out and then have to walk across the parking lot. There is even this pretty cool game app for kids from the JFK Library Foundation called JFK CHALLENGE where they look at the Apollo 11 mission and/or become a Peace Corp Volunteer (PCV) and help build hospitals or other things the Peace Corps does.
What I can’t find an app for is locating my own Peace Corp Volunteer.
Two days ago, I dropped my daughter off at a hotel in Downtown Philadelphia where she begins her new adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer somewhere in Madagascar. I have no idea where. Neither does she. Just somewhere in Madagascar.
The Peace Corps sent us information about the program and what we can expect as a loved one of a PCV and they pretty much tell us that NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS, especially the first three months during training. Not only will the PCV’s be busy learning a new language, culture, and being prepped for their placement somewhere in Madagascar, the internet connection is not as accessible there and it is important (probably more so today then 20 years ago) for the PCV to learn not to rely heavily on technology. She barely remembers a world without cell phones much less a world without WiFi.
We’ve been told that we will be notified when our PCV lands in Madagascar and we will be informed if there is a problem, otherwise, don’t expect texts, emails, phone calls. The Peace Corps sent the PCV a letter telling them to make sure they prep their loved ones with the idea that NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. As I write this, she’s only about half hour in the air on her way to the land of Lemurs and I’m already counting down the hours to when I should hear something. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.
Every time I read this or hear this, I think back to when I was about 12 and the public announcement came on TV every night at around 11pm. It’s eleven o’clock, do you know where you children are? Of course, technology has changed that because there is an App to know where you child is and yep, we’ve used it. Though kind of useless when your kid puts his iPhone on the side of the boat and then puts the boat in gear and takes off and the phone plummets to the bottom of the lake.
My daughter is a world traveler. She’s been all over the world and has lived in Australia and in Spain. But while there, we had instant access to each other via Facetime, Skype, and text messages that are basically FREE. Heck, when she first found out her placement for the Peace Corps, I was sitting in a car at the Newark Airport with Bob heading to a conference in New Jersey and she called me on Facetime from Spain to tell me. And, when she traveled to visit other countries in Europe while living in Spain, I could use Find My iPhone to find her, so there was that.
I did get a text from her that she was on the plane. A direct flight from NYC to South Africa and then another flight from there to Madagascar, but that could be the last I hear from her for a while. NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS. I think this was the mantra my parents grew up with, but technology has changed things for many of us. A few people have looked at me and said, they might not have internet? As if that is like the air we breathe and its just there. Of course, when I mention she could be living without power, much less running water. Ever take a bucket bath for months on end? We take so much for granted and we also tend to rely heavily on technology, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m an early adapter of most technology, but there is a whole world of people that might have to travel a few miles to a café for internet, and while we have pretty good cell phone coverage and very few dropped calls these days, in other places, it might be miles and miles of dead zones.
It is great to be connected globally. However, Kelsey, my PCV is connecting to an entirely different culture in a way that technology can’t really do. In person. Face to Face. Living the way the Madagascar people live. She will be teaching in whatever town or village she goes to as she’s an Education Volunteer. But more than that, she will be learning about the people of Madagascar. Their culture. Their way of life and bringing a piece of that back here.
The Peace Corp is a 27-month commitment. That’s a long time. And its all volunteer. She won’t get paid for this commitment. At least not in a monetary way. But there are other forms of payment, and I suspect she will get that in spades.
She does have a blog started, though no idea how often she will be able to update it. She will have days off to go into the nearest larger town or city and she wants to try to update it as much as possible, but you can follow her adventures here. I’ll also be posting her adventures here at Write on the River, when I get letters and whatnot.
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS.
I think I’ll start this off backward. Bob is taking care of The Future Leader of the Resistance prepare for the coming of another Future Leader of the Resistance. I’m sure this will consists of lots of trucks and other manly things.
Now lets jump to the first part: The Battle of Palo Alto. I’m not the history buff that Bob is, but I am fascinated by history. I’ve learned a lot over the years working with Bob, probably more than I ever thought I wanted to know, and really, need a random fact, Bob is your guy.
The very first major battle in the Mexican-American War was The Battle of Palo Alto on May 8, 1846 in Brownsville, Texas. So, in honor of this battle we are giving away West Point to Mexico, the first book in the Duty, Honor, Country Trilogy for FREE. This is only available on Amazon.
Please feel free to leave an honest review on Amazon after downloading and reading the eBook. We appreciate the support. READERS RULE!
They swore oaths, both personal and professional. They were fighting for country, for a way of life and for family. Classmates carried more than rifles and sabers into battle. They had friendships, memories, children and wives. They had innocence lost, promises broken and glory found.
Duty, Honor, Country is history told both epic and personal so we can understand what happened, but more importantly feel the heart-wrenching clash of duty, honor, country and loyalty. And realize that sometimes, the people who changed history, weren’t recorded by it. In the vein of HBO’s Rome miniseries, two fictional characters, Rumble and Cord are standing at many of the major crossroads of our history.
Our story starts in 1840, in Benny Havens tavern, just outside post limits of the United States Military Academy. With William Tecumseh Sherman, Rumble, Cord, and Benny Havens’ daughter coming together in a crucible of honor and loyalty. And on post, in the West Point stables, where Ulysses S. Grant and a classmate are preparing to saddle the Hell-Beast, a horse with which Grant would eventually set an academy record, and both make fateful decisions that will change the course of their lives and history.
We follow these men forward to the eve of the Mexican War, tracing their steps at West Point and ranging to a plantation at Natchez on the Mississippi, Major Lee at Arlington, and Charleson, SC. We travel aboard the USS Somers and the US Navy mutiny that led to the founding of the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
We end with Grant and company in New Orleans, preparing to sale to Mexico and war, and Kit Carson and Fremont at Pilot Peak in Utah during his great expedition west.
Nothing But Good Times Ahead!
Please welcome Cool Gus Team Author Mark Chisnell to Write on the River.
Homeland – Season Finale
It’s been a couple of weeks since Season Four of Homeland finished, and I posted on Facebook at the time that I thought this Guardian review was generous.
I thought that final episode was botched together after they learned that they had got the money for Season 5… perhaps I should explain that a little more with some wild and completely unsubstantiated speculation.
So let’s imagine it’s early in the first US transmission, and the writing team are meeting to agree the trajectory of the final episodes of Season 4 which still have to be shot. The ratings aren’t going particularly well, and it looks like they won’t get the money for Season 5. So they say to hell with it, let’s finish it with a bang…
Let’s kill Saul off before he can get out of Pakistan. Then Quinn kills Haqqani with a pipe bomb attack, and goes down in a hail of bullets. Carrie watches him die helplessly, goes home to mourn him and her father both, but takes on the role of mother to her child after leaving the CIA.
Brilliant! Action packed to the finale, all tied up in a tragic-but-happy ending that makes complete sense with what’s gone before, with Carrie finally out of the self-destructive job. The End.
Then they start showing the episodes with the attack on the embassy, and suddenly there’s a huge surge in ratings. The cash tills ring and the studio execs demand more… suddenly the money is on the table for season five. Uh-oh, but everybody dies, or retires. Quick! Rewrite! Reshoot!
So they fudge the last episode and the final couple of minutes of the one before with completely new material. Saul doesn’t die. Quinn is persuaded by Carrie not to blow up Haqqani (really?), and lo and behold – deux ex machine grinding audibly in the background – it’s all ok, the US have it covered after all, Dar Adal is in the car with Haqqani!
Implausible. Unlikely. Improbable… and lots of other synonyms.
Then they have to shoot a new final episode, back in the US with none of the locations they have used for the rest of the season. So they come up with the ridiculous mechanic of the mother turning up.
“Good drama tends to let characterisation guide the plot, so to have such a significant figure turn up merely to help Carrie learn a couple of life lessons was very weak indeed,” said the Guardian.
I rest my case.