Tag Archives: book tour

Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Celia Rivenbark

CeliaPhoto2Celia Rivenbark dishes essays about the old south, the new south, and everything in between in her fifth book You Can’t Drink All Day If you Don’t Start in the Mornin’. In addition to a collection of essays so funny you’ll shoot co’cola out of your nose, Celia gives readers a treasure trove of Southern recipes and the hilarious stories behind them.

For eight years Celia wrote for her hometown paper, the Wallace, NC Enterprise. She covered everything from weddings to funky fruit to dead bodies(sometimes all in the same day). But the big city beckoned so Celia packed her bags and headed to Wilmington, NC and the Morning Star. More weddings but eventually she achieved every Southern girl’s dream. She was paid to be a smart ass(a.k.a. write a humor column).

Along the way she found herself a husband(the sports writer, of course– they are the cutest guys at the paper!), a beautiful baby daughter, and a gig as a stay-at-home mom. After her 3,000th diaper change, Celia starting writing a humor column for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC. After all, what’s funnier than 3000 dirty diapers? Laugh along with Celia on her WOW Blog Tour– dates are listed at www.wow-womenonwriting.com/blog.html

YouCantDrink_coverCelia will be popping in today (between Bloody Marys) to answer your questions and comments about her books or writing in general.  One lucky winner will be randomly selected to win a copy of You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Mornin’. (Posts must be made before 12 midnight CST and winner must live in U.S.)

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

MJC: Your humor and “voice” are so distinct. Can you share why it is so important to have a distinct voice and how you have worked to develop your own?

Celia: Everybody has a distinct voice. The difference is that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to practice mine every single day for a living for a long time. I discovered after writing “Bless Your Heart, Tramp” that a surprising number of readers really enjoyed the Southernspeak. They didn’t always understand it but they didn’t seem to mind. More than a few have written over the years to ask what a particular phrase means. The copyeditors who review my manuscripts always have questions because they didn’t grow up talkin’ “Souther-ren.” So they stumble through life like a blind mule in a punkin’ patch without so much as an “I swanee” or “pea turkey squat” to comfort them. One of my favorite writing exercises is to write a few pages of dialogue with different voices. Then I read it out loud and, if it sounds, authentic, into the book it goes.

MJC: I love your raw and sarcastic comments and tone, but not everyone shares the same sense of humor.  Have you had much “mommie backlash” from things you’ve written?  If so, how did you handle it?

Celia: I haven’t had much mommie backlash at all. Most of my friends feel the exact same way I do about the Crazy Mommies. Then again, I might not recognize a good stink-eye aimed in my direction. By and large, I think most mommies understand I write humor and, yes, sometimes I exaggerate for effect. If I’ve gored your ox with something I’ve written, it’s important to remember that this is supposed be for laughs.

MJC: This is your fifth book of humorous essays, but the first to include recipes.  What made you decide to add recipes and how did you decide which ones to add?

Celia: Sooner or later, everybody starts putting recipes into their books.  (Well except for Paul Krugman or smart people like that but then you just know he just eats Kraft blue box mac and cheese over a hotplate every night don’t you?) Jill Conner Browne’s “Knock You Naked Margaritas” were stuck in my mind along with Mary Kay Andrews’ chicken salad recipe, which is good but a bit labor-intensive. I figured if they could do it, so could I. My mother-in-law, to whom the book is dedicated, is a phenomenal country cook so it seemed even more appropriate. I wrote the book first, then added the recipes, which I selected based on how well I could tie them to a particular essay and, more important, how good (or how mom-friendly) they were.

MJC: Like many of my readers, you began (or continued) to write through the throes of new mommy-hood. Can you offer any tips to those who are struggling to make time to write as a new mom?

Celia: I always used naptime for writing my column. Sophie napped for exactly 2.5 hours a day, and that’s about as long as I can sit still and write anyway.

MJC: Your essays are so very current. How do you use the “power of observation” to gather these ideas into essays with universal appeal?

Celia: I’m a huge pop culture and news junkie. If something strikes me as something I could riff on and customize (as in The Southern Mama’s take on Paris Hilton going to jail), then I let it marinate for a day or two and then start writing.

MJC: You’ve written about celebrities, mommies, the South. Will you write a collection of humorous essays on the life of a writer?

Celia: No, because others have done that and done it very well. For instance, right now I’m reading “And Here’s the Kicker.” It’s a new book of interviews with humor writers that I’m just slightly bitter about not being included in. What’s interesting is how many of the writers were misfits and sad sacks growing up. Hmmmmm.

Feel free to tell us about any of your upcoming appearances or events:

Celia: Thanks for letting me yak. Please drop by celiarivenbark.com for information on real and virtual book tours and more.


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, contests, Creative Essays, Give Aways, Non Fiction, Voice, writers

Book Blog Tour: Mindy Friddle, Author of Secret Keepers

mindyTALK3-797755Today, I am excited to introduce novelist, Mindy Friddle, who brings a seasoned writer’s expertise to the muddle of writing we all face.

Bio: Mindy Friddle’s first novel, The Garden Angel(St. Martin’s Press/Picador), a SIBA bestseller, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program in 2004, and was a National Public Radio (NPR) Morning Edition summer reading pick.Secret Keepers, her second novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press in May.She lives, writes, and gardens in Greenville, South Carolina where she directs the Writing Room, a community-based nonprofit program she founded in 2006. skeepersorder2

Mindy will be checking for your comments, it’s her “favorite part of blog touring!” So, be sure to leave a comment or question regarding Mindy’s novels, writing in general, or even gardening!(She’s a Master Gardener.)


Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

   1. Wow, Mindy, your list of credentials are a novel in itself.  Let’s talk about your fiction awards.  Are you always on the look out for contests that suit your writing style, or is this something your agent or publisher does for you?  How do you prepare your work for a particular contest?  What about a residency contest?

Something I love about entering writing contests: the deadlines. Sounds funny, maybe, but consider two important points:
1. You have to prepare and submit something by a certain date—which can motivate you to finish or polish.
2. You’ll find out whether your manuscript made it or not within a certain time frame. Even if your work didn’t make it this time, take heart. So often when you submit a story or article for publication, you wait a loooong time to find out if it was read, much less accepted. At least in contests, you’ll know for certain if your work was considered or not. And you can move on.
Poets & Writershas an excellent calendar and listing of contests. You can find it at bookstores and also online.

 2. I, myself, sit on the board for a national non-profit for young writers and volunteer my teaching for a local non-profit organization for children.  So, your non-profit program, the Writing Room, touches my heartstrings.  Can you tell us how you founded this program, and how much time you now are able to devote to the Writing Room?  How do you seek out reliable volunteers or do they seek you out?

I talked to a local arts foundation, the Emrys Foundation here in South Carolina, that was willing to sponsor a program for writers. So I agreed to direct the program, which offers seminar and workshops to writers of all levels. I’ve recruited some terrific writing teachers, and we offer at least one seminar or class at no charge every season, as well as multi-week intense workshops (from fiction writing, flash fiction, writing for children, and screenwriting) for a range of fees. One of our goals is to eventually raise funds to offer one or two scholarships every season for folks who want to take in-depth writing workshops, but need some financial assistance. It’s a new program, which I spearheaded because I sensed we had an untapped literary community. Our mission at the Writing Room is to “build a community of writers.”


 3. Aspiring novelists are often curious how much of a platform one needs before tackling the marathon that is a novel (both the writing and publishing.) “Where to focus our energies?” Can you tell us about your fiction writing credits and platform prior to landing your first book deal for The Garden Angel?

I didn’t have much at all, as far as credits. And no platform, really. I hope aspiring novelists will take encouragement from that. You can’t go wrong with focusing your energy on the writing. Easier said, than done—I know! But a set schedule—writing several times a week no matter what—and reading a lot—that will get you far. Also helpful: attending writing conferences and forming a supportive group of fellow writers to read each other’s work.  After winning a fiction award in my state—the first contest I’d won—I attended Bread Loaf Writers Conference. There, I met Julianna Baggott, a generous writer who recommended that I send my manuscript–when I finished it–to her agent. I followed up and queried, and was fortunate to acquire my agent that way.

 4. Back to your latest novel, Secret Keepers.  Where did you get the inspiration for Emma’s character and what kind of research was needed to write from the POV of a 72-year-old woman?

After I got to know Emma—her background, her yearnings—and observed her actions (which sometimes surprised me) it wasn’t hard to get into her head. I like to think that age, gender, race, class, etc. aren’t obstacles to writers. Yeah, I know– that’s one of those Big Ideas that crops up on panel discussions: Can you really write about characters outside of your own experience/age/gender? YES. Imagination. Empathy, Curiosity. They go a long way.  Also, the omniscient point of view in Secret Keepers allows the reader access to the thoughts of a cast of characters: Emma, but also her adult children, her teenage grandson, a landscaper, and a homeless guy.  I really loved using the omniscient point of view, with a narrator who occasionally chimes in.  I hope the reader does, too.  I have more about the story behind SECRET KEEPERS on my website.


   5. On your tour post at The Muffin, you gave great bulleted tips on the process of novel writing: how to be a “weekend writer” and get through the first draft of your novel before focusing on revisions.  What method(s) do you use to keep all of your writing, research and notes organized while pummeling through that first draft? Do you outline; use note cards; have a favorite writing software?
Organize…not one of my talents. I manage piles. I don’t outline, really, but I do take notes on subsequent drafts and revisions. I use notecards to keep track of characters’ basic bios—when they were born, for example—and also to track scenes. If I think a scene is missing—a conversation between two characters that needs to explain something that will figure in later, for example—I make a note of it on a notecard. “Dora and Jake need to talk about Will’s death before we know Bobby remembers…” something like that. Occasionally, when I want to see the big picture and step back, I’ll use flip chart pages to note when things happen—sort of a crudely drawn timeline. That usually happens in revision, when I’m having to nail down details. I think you can find out what works for you as a writer—I love colors, for example. Highlighting my notecards by character is helpful, and using the “highlight” function in Word to figure out what needs to stay [green for me], what needs to be cut [pink], what needs to be moved somewhere else [yellow].  It’s always interesting to see what works for different writers. I’ve interviewed a number of authors, and this topic often comes up. The interviews are posted on my website, on the Interviews with Writerspage, and there’s more commentary on my blog here, and here. I wrote about the zen of writing– you just walk the path– at A Good Blog is Hard to Find

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights!  Please tell us what is on the horizon and where we can find more of your work:
I’m drafting a novel….and between drafts I sometimes turn to writing short fiction. Please feel free to visit my website and blog for more information on writing and reading, and drop me an email with questions or comments. Happy writing and reading everyone!

SECRET KEEPERS:  strong storytelling, comic touches, prickly family dynamics, and the magical power of nature.

St. Martin’s Press
Read an excerpt at www.mindyfriddle.com
On Sale: 4/27/2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-53702-9
ISBN-10: 0-312-53702-6
Also available: THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin’s Press & Picador)


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, goals, Inspiration, Novels, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, writer markets, writers, writing inspiration

Blog Tour: Author/Artist Rachel Dillon

r_dillon_portrait1 Today, joining us at Writers Inspired is Rachel Dillon, introducing her first book in a series on endangered animals: Through Endangered Eyes. Rachel not only wrote the poetry for this book , but illustrated the beautiful dot paintings on each page and cover. And, if you comment in today’s post (after the interview) you will have a chance to win a copy of Through Endangered Eyes.

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Rachel Dillon earned her bachelor s degree in art and graphic design from the University of Wisconsin Madison. She lives and works as an artist in the Southwest. Beyond design and fine art, Rachel holds a special interest in ecology, evolution, and extinction. Her passion for animals and endangered species has
led her to write about them in hopes that educating others will lead to a more conscientious treatment of these animals and their habitats.

book_cover_tee-squareBe sure to leave a comment or question for Rachel today (April 6) for a chance to win a copy of Through Endangered Eyes!

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

MJC: It is obvious you are an animal rights’ activist. How did you research for your book: how did you decide the poses you were going to paint and the information you were going to put into poetry?

RD: When I started the book, I chose animals that most people have heard are endangered: African elephant, giant panda, tiger, snow leopard, sea turtle, humpback whale. I had reference books, zoos and the internet to help me research these species. Some of the lesser known species: the Marbled Murrelet, the Channel Island Fox, and the Comoro Black Flying Fox, were more difficult to find information. For those I spent most of my time doing searches online for qualified information.

I really wanted to keep the facts for the animals simple and direct, so young readers and listeners could understand. I think the fact that I am not a scientist helped me to keep it simple. I wanted to really find something unique and special about each species that I could convey in a poem. What feature or behavior was different about the animal and how can I capture a child’s attention with words?

I think I leave the painting question for last, because my paintings mean so much to me. When I shopped for a publisher, I mentioned they didn’t have to take my artwork, if they only wanted the content. Looking back, I think that was an insecurity I had about the quality of my art. Even though I knew how fascinated children were with my paintings of animals, I wasn’t sure if it was too unique for the general public.

Some of my earlier paintings in my book (the African elephant, tiger and sea turtle) were poses of animals I had already painted or drawn before.  As I progressed further into the book, the story telling in my paintings or the complexity in the detail of the paintings improved: examples are the Grevy’s zebras, snow leopard, polar bear, and Karner blue butterflies. These paintings were more than just portraits, the animals are interacting with each other or their environment.

MJC: I love that your kids are so involved in your writing experiences, like the mention of your daughter wondering if a stranger on the street knew who you were because “you were in the newspaper last week.”  How do you, as a mom and artist influence these artistic passions in your kids?  Do you have any projects that you work on together?

RD: I certainly try to encourage my kids’ creativity. My daughter is a doodler, so she has paper at the table and is constantly drawing. I give her drawing instruction books too so she has guidance. I also go into her first grade class and work with the kids twice per month on art concepts: perspective, complementary colors and painting styles.

My son is five, and he is less confident with drawing, but loves to paint. He mixes beautiful colors and just enjoys the freedom of the abstraction. I go into his classroom once per week and work with the pre-k and kindergartners on painting. They love to get messy and some have never had that experience.

Together we (my kids and I) pull out the watercolors and play with the paint. When I am getting some of my promotion materials together for the book, they help me paste and stick, organize and fold things. I also like to work on my paintings in front of the kids. They watch me paint and they’ll ask questions, so I know being exposed to the process is also essential in their learning.

MJC: Artistic expression, I believe, is vitally important to our society, our children and ourselves. I applaud you for combining your paintings with your poetry.  Do you consider yourself an artist first and an author second, and how do the two compliment each other?

RD: I feel more comfortable calling myself an artist first, since I have had training and a lot of time to build that image of myself. I am still getting used to the idea of being an author but farther from calling myself a poet. I feel that writing and poetry come naturally to me, but have not studied them thoroughly enough to feel proficient. I come from a line of published authors – my father, and my grandfather to start, I am excited to be finding my own path as a writer, and know how proud my parents are.

I completely agree with your comment about the importance of artistic expression. It is important to me to expose my children to galleries, theatre, dancing, music and other performances as much as I can. All of these arenas can hold such wonderful examples of expression.

MJC: Can you tell us about the marketing and publication process of Through Endangered Eyes, and how you were involved as both the illustrator and author?

RD: Luckily, I have had career experiences that taught me about marketing and PR. I think my publisher is doing their part in the process of publicizing my book, but I am determined to take it a step further. My Web site, blog, Facebook page, and network of friends and family have been a wonderful start at getting the word out about my book.

If I have a book event, I send a press release to the local paper, get on their Web events list, update my Web site, send emails to the people I know locally and postcards if I have mailing addresses. I definitely know that exposing people three times to something, helps keep it in the front of their mind.

As the artist, I have made note cards and prints of the book illustrations and offer the actual illustrations for sale on my Web site. As give-aways, I hand out bookmarks and magnets showing one of my illustrations and I have started making t-shirts of the book’s cover image. Wow, I feel like Walmart when I list it out. Not sure if I am commercializing the product too much or just enough. I know that my goal is to make an income at this, so I can live the dream of being a full time artist and author.

This blog tour has been an amazing way to publicize the book as well. No matter what, my motivation for creating the book always remains the same, I want to get as many kids thinking about endangered species as I possibly can.

MJC: Please tell us about book two in this series and your plans for marketing more through your blog (videos of reading and painting.)

RD: I feel like a rookie in the blog world, as much as a new author on a steep learning curve. So, seeing what other authors write on their blogs and how they share information certainly helps me to see the possibilities.

I want to add a few things to my blog: more classroom photos; a video of me reading the book; an audio of the book’s poetry; and video of me painting. Now, I just have to figure out how to do that.

As I start the process for the next book I will definitely post the images of the new animals I am working on and the species I choose to write about. I also want to work with mores specialists and shoot more of my own stock photography of the animals I want to paint. I know several of the species in the next book, will be impossible to find in a location I can take pictures, so I will rely on stock photos I purchase or combining several photos together I find online, to create an original image. Keeping people updated and interested in learning more about the next book, is a great way for me to share the process and increase their enthusiasm to go out and get the next one!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in your blog and great questions!

www.RachelDillon.com – you can purchase the original artwork, notecards and prints from the book
Blog: throughendangeredeyes.blogspot.com
You can order a print from: Amazon.com
Publisher is http://www.finneyco.com/endangered_eyes.htm
Artists for Conservation: http://www.natureartists.com/rachel_dillon.asp

Post a comment or question for Rachel and one lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced tomorrow!


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Give Aways, Platform/Marketing