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Day: December 1, 2015

Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – Sean Fay Wolfe #riauthors

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Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – Sean Fay Wolfe

This post was originally posted on Martha Reynold’s blog and has been reposted here with author permission, minor revisions have been made.

I originally self-published the first book of the Elementia Chronicles, Quest for Justice on the first day of 2014. As a junior in high school with no experience in the publishing industry, I wasn’t really sure what to do first. My parents had suggested a marketing blitz through social media, but I still knew there was more that I could be doing. How could I spread the word about my action-adventure series set in Minecraft? I pondered this question until one day, a month or so after publication, I received a letter from a child in a local Cub Scout Pack. That’s right… not an email or a text, a handwritten letter, and from an elementary schooler. In the letter, the student explained that he loved Quest for Justice, and that his school was going to be having a Reading Week in April that he would love for me to come and speak at it.

Naturally, I immediately contacted the librarian of the school, who agreed that a presentation about a Minecraft book would really get the kids excited about reading. I was ecstatic, I finally had the opportunity I was looking for to spread the word about my book. But what was I going to say in this half-hour presentation? The first thought that came to mind was to just wing it. After all, I knew the story of how I had published the book, and what the book itself was about, so how hard could it be? Luckily, I had landed another presentation in another school before the big Reading Week presentation, so I decided to try out my idea. A few days later, in my first-ever school presentation, I stepped out in front of dozens of kids to tell the story of how I turned my Minecraft fan-fiction into a published book. What followed was an extremely uncomfortable half hour of an unfocused and unprofessional talk which told the students almost nothing about me or my book. Everybody walked away feeling disappointed. It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my entire life.

Realizing that going off the cuff was something I could not do, I set to work preparing for my next presentation. A week later, when I gave the Reading Week presentation, I didn’t just step out with an ill-formed presentation. Instead, I had a written speech in my hand which  I had practiced over and over beforehand. I talked not just about me and my book, but also about the writing processes that I used and advice on how the students could write a story. The kids were hooked from start to finish, and the teachers told me it was a great presentation. Since then, I have given countless other presentations using that speech as my template, always working to improve upon each presentation. Most importantly, I  returned to the first school to atone for my mistake. Now I know how important it is to prepare.

Sean Fay Wolfe is the bestselling author of The Elementia Chronicles, an unofficial Minecraft fan-adventure series. Visit his websitelike his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter, and find his books on Amazon or through your local bookstore.

Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – John W. Grisham #riauthors

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Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – John W. Grisham

This post was originally posted on Martha Reynold’s blog and has been reposted here with author permission, minor revisions have been made.
“We are only young once. That is all society can stand.” –Bob Bowen
Full disclosure: I am not the author of The FirmThe Client, or the Theodore Boone series, though like my literary namesake I am an attorney by profession, having practiced locally for many years. (While the rewards can be quite satisfying, the encounters with armed thugs and hair-breadth escapes from death are fortunately less common in real life.)
Few experiences are as humbling as sitting down to write a first novel. Like other aspiring authors, I’d heard the old saying that you write a million words of dreck before starting to turn out publishable material. By my estimate, I’ve paid my dues twice over just trying to get the story right. Along the way, I often identified with James Joyce’s famous lament that, “I got seven words today…but I don’t know what order they go in!”
In University, I take the reader on a four-year jaunt through a fictional New England institution of higher learning. The novel is set in the 1980’s—everyone’s favorite pop-culture decade, with background details ranging from the ubiquitous (Pac-Man) to the obscure (remember Pepsi Free?). Inspired by my own undergraduate days at BU*, it is the story of that brief, mostly bygone period in everyone’s life when breaking the rules and questioning authority were the norm, with liability concerns of secondary importance. You will relive the experience of pulling all-nighters (sometimes studying, more often not), and waking up 12 minutes before your first freshman exam. Together, we will cheer on a video game-playing dormmate’s attempt at a world record, and watch with a mix of sympathy and Schadenfreude the clumsy, on-and-off-again efforts of an earlier generation’s Leonard Hofstadter to win the girl of his dreams. While behind the scenes, the school’s ambitious president consolidates his power on campus, achieving absolute control of his domain before a desperate craving for higher office leads him to become separated from reality.
In the end, it’s the characters that carry a novel, and here I had no shortage of inspiration. A shout-out to the boys of Towers 6 West and the girls of 7, who made this a labor of love, and a story I hope you will find entertaining.
*Boston University, not Baylor. With apologies to our friends from Texas.
John William Grisham is a practicing attorney in Providence, and a member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors. A 35-year resident of Middletown, he is a former Secretary and past Chair of the local Library Board, and has previously served on the Town Charter Review Commission. Find his book University here.

Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – Buffi Wixted #riauthors

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Rhode Island Author Expo Spotlight – Buffi Wixted

This post was originally posted on Martha Reynold’s blog and has been reposted here with author permission, minor revisions have been made.
Does the thought of having to answer your child’s questions about Santa make you realize how fast they are growing up?
A few years ago my son Dixon caught my husband off guard during a walk in the park with the statement, “ Dad, Santa can’t deliver all those presents by himself. It’s just not possible.” My husband told him Santa has lots of helpers and quickly changed the subject to basketball. I think having to answer your child’s questions about Santa causes fear and anxiety for most parents. After hearing about the trip to the park, I decided to write Dixon a letter putting my explanation of Santa’s magic on paper because I feared disappointing him and I didn’t want to stumble over the importance of what I wanted to tell to him. Yes, it had been wonderful experiencing Santa’s magic by receiving all those gifts over the years, but Santa’s magic is much more than mysterious presents that appear under the tree. Santa’s magic is really about celebrating the kindness and generosity of the human spirit. Telling Dixon the truth about Santa was more than revealing a secret; it was a big step moving him away from the innocence of childhood and closer to adolescence.
While writing my letter, it occurred to me that learning the truth about Santa should not be a disappointment, rather it’s an honor for a child to learn the history Santa and why we work so hard to keep his magic alive for each new generation to enjoy. When a child is ready to understand and appreciate the joy of giving, allowing them to participate in the process of keeping Santa’s magic alive, it signifies that he or she is maturing into a kind, generous, and loving individual. At this point my letter changed from explaining the end of one of the most beloved childhood mysteries to becoming a well-deserved invitation for Dixon to become one of Santa’s real elves and join us as members of the secret society who keeps Santa’s magic alive.
After putting up our Christmas tree, my husband and gave Dixon the letter I had written. It explained a little of Santa’s history and gently revealed that we had been the elves sharing Santa’s magic with him in honor of the generosity St. Nicholas had shown centuries ago. To mark this milestone we presented Dixon with a special elf ornament engraved with his name and the date. As he added his new elf ornament to the other milestone ornaments on the family Christmas tree, he became Santa’s newest elf and now shared the important responsibility of keeping Santa’s magic alive for future generations to enjoy. A few tears were shed, but the importance of helping keep the centuries old tradition of anonymous gift giving alive soon outweighed the tears and became a new challenge.
Over the next few years, as the letter was shared with family and friends, it slowly evolved into Elf Pledge Book and became part of the “The Fellowship of Elves Membership Kit” under the pen name Edwin Lionel Flynn (E.L.F.). The educational and interactive membership kit now contains all the items necessary to share the secret of Santa’s magic and make your child an official Elf Fellow – one of Santa’s real helpers.
To learn more about the Fellowship of Elves, please visit our website, our Twitter page, and our Facebook page
Buffi Wixted is a wife, parent, and teacher with 22+ years of classroom experience. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.