Friday, August 27, 2010

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure | Video on

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure | Video on
Today, while I should have been grading student papers,  I watched, spellbound, the 2008 Harvard commencement speech given by JK Rowling.  Amy Plum, another author with an exciting upcoming novel, posted it earlier on her page, and I had bookmarked it to read at a more suitable time.  (And, as a profs know, what better time to watch a video than grading time?)

I must admit: I am not a Harry Potter fan.  I read the first book in the series to my older son when he was little (he's now in college), and I felt a little befuddled at how this book had acquired such accolades.  Then I watched the movie, and (once again, red-faced at this admission) I got it.  I looked forward to the second and third movies, even though I still didn't pick up the physical book.  I was never one for fantasy or science fiction writing, and I'll just have to die knowing that I will never have the ardent desire for Harry or [insert any number of Lord of the Rings characters here] that I witness all around me.  That's why I was so surprised that JK Rowling's speech moved me so.  She is eloquent, both in writing and in delivery, and her message is inspiring.  Writers, dreamers, and those who are afraid of failure (or experiencing failure) should watch this powerful clip. 

I am grateful to for posting it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

on pubs, the garden of fiction, and nagging

You don't have to drink Guinness to celebrate, but it certainly does make the atmosphere festive, no? I spoke with the manager at Trinity Hall and admitted to him that, hey, I kind of scheduled a book launch party and announced it on the internet inviting everyone before asking you if that's okay.  Is that okay?

I suppose this is just one example of my impulsive inclinations, but it actually all turned out!  The manager is exactly the way you would imagine a manager of an Irish pub: I-want-to-be-that-cool cool. He said he'd print some custom vouchers for me to hand out to those attendees of the B&N reading on October 21st--little "free drink" vouchers with the image of my book on it.  Great "pub"-licity idea, huh, writers?   I will be paying for all those free drinks, and happily so in the midst of your excellent company.  So, my friends, I'll be passing these charming cards out to the first 20 or so people at the reading who are planning on going to the party across the street at Trinity Hall afterward.  For the under-21 crowd, I'm waiting for info on the age limit and possibility for soft-drink vouchers.  More info soon.

I mentioned in the previous blog that I was reading 4 books at one time, hence the appropriately placed image:
I just wanted to quickly comment here that I'm on reading overload.  I'm delighted that there are so many kinds of literature that speak to me--that I have at my disposal such a wide range of talent and stories of human experience. Such a garden of fiction.  Do you all realize how lucky we are in this time and place to have such quick and easy access to all these books?  I was watching Candide tonight (for the sixth or seventh time)--the one with Kristin Chenoweth, and if you haven't seen it, man are you missing one of the world's great delights.  I was suddenly moved by the fact that I can watch this recording, read a little T.C. Boyle, Kingsolver, Winn Scotch, and browse a few pages of The Far Side collection before I flip off my night lamp.  What magnificent luxuries at my fingertips.  I'm grateful.

Lastly, my post title promises something on nagging.  This wouldn't be an honest post if I didn't admit that I've become a nag.  I'm nag nag nagging my publisher for my advanced reader copies, and she's probably getting sick of me.  I've become this:

I'm darn near contacting her daily (actually, yes, every day), asking her if she's got word from the printer.  My publicist is on indefinite hold.  You may need to know this if you find yourself with a small publisher (I can't speak for the bigger ones): it's hard to be patient, especially when you've got plans, baby. God bless her for dealing with her newest nag, and Godspeed to the printer!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Power is in Your Hands

Sounds like an advertising campaign, doesn't it?  It's actually the message of an article by Annette Fix , the editor of WOW! (Women on Writing).  My friend and writer, Greg Allen, who is keeping his angel-eyes on marketing avenues pour moi, sent me this article about getting online book reviews...which, it appears, will be critical for me, since we're still waiting for the ARCs less than two months before book launch day.

(Can you hear me gnawing on my fingernails?)

The article by Fix is a great resource for writers.  I hope it will be of value to other writers who need reviewers.  Thanks, Annette, for the compilation of sources.

This is a scary time for me, I'm not kidding you.  I feel as though I'm not in control of this process, try as I might to get my ducks in a row before the book launch. I'm getting reassurances from my publisher, which is nice, but I'm discovering a (possibly inherent) proclivity for panic that is screwing with my sleep habits, which used to number one, and rhymed with "sleeps like a drick."

Add to this mounting anxiety the unrelenting notion that I am experiencing this all alone.  ALONE, people.  Because, frankly, there aren't many writers who comment on my blog (though I do have StatCounter, which tallies my visits, so I'm pretty sure you're out there reading...), and I've been searching, surfing, and row boating my way through the internet, and have found not one blog about publishing a debut novel with a small press.  I've found several websites by established authors and debut novelists with big-name publishers--and they're delightful--but not sites by authors who can commiserate with, or at least validate, my anxiety.

Enough negativity!  (But I would really like to hear from you out there...)

On a happy/weird note, I'm reading four novels at once.  Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna, T.C. Boyles's The Women, Allison Winn Scotch's The One that I Want, and Jenny Nelson's Georgia's Kitchen.  Very different books with their own pace and charm, but it just so happens that the fall semester begins next week, and I have these four books left to read.  I'm cramming like a college freshman.  Also, it leaves less time to worry about the progress of the publication of SONG.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Winners, and more events!

The debut contest for free books is complete, and the winners are...
Jaclyn Pham Haynes
Greg Allen

Congrats, guys!  Please send me an email at loriannstephens[at] with your physical address, your order receipt (if you didn't email one yet) and the name of the free book you'd like, compliments of me!

My friends Andrea and Maggie in Chicago have arranged a reading there on November 2, so I have my research skills cut out for me.  Note to self: must advertise this event through the local papers and pray people show up and order a fine Belgian beer.

For local friends and writers, I'll be do a reading at the University of Texas at Dallas on Wednesday, October 27 at 7:30 PM.  Books will be there for purchase, or you can bring your own, and do a "read-along." I'll visit a graduate-student writing class the evening before, and it will be like old times: back in the creative writing classroom again!

I'll place both these events on the Song of the Orange Moons Facebook page ("Like" it, folks) and on my web page calendar.  I'd love to see some of my old classmates at the UTD reading.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Two days before the free book drawing!

This is a reminder, that you have 2 more days to get your pre-order of Song of the Orange Moons for the free-books prize!  (See the July 21st post.) You like free books, right? 

To make it even easier, there's no need to email me your receipt; just Comment in the box below that you've pre-ordered, and I'll put you in the drawing!  Easy as pie.  If you're the winner, I'll get the refund info and your free book of choice (woo-hoo!) via email afterward. 

Good luck, and if you've ordered the book (I've heard through the grapevine that many of you have), don't forget to Comment below to enter the contest!

Share this page with friends and family if you know they've ordered (or plan to order).