Archives for the month of: August, 2013

ImageJust wing it, right?

WRONG!

If you have 50 minutes to talk about your Hispanic books or YA books with students, you better know exactly what you’re going to do with every second. Here’s how my talk goes:

1. I talk to them about how I came to be a writer and my writing process (the teachers will LOVE you for this).

2. I ask the students questions about movies, videos games, and books they like (yes, there’s a reason).

3. I show a couple of trailers about my books. I create these myself in powerpoint or i-Movie. The kids LOVE them!

4. I have Q&A with the students. They’ll be shy at first but then, trust me, the questions will come.

Remember to have fun with them. Kids love authors, and they love to be entertained. The better you are, the more they’ll love you, and they’ll want to buy more fantasy dragon books!

A testimonial:

Kevin,

This book is for my son. He bought the first fantasy fiction book from you at the farmers market a few weeks ago and has been really enjoying it.

If you could address it to Daniel I would appreciate it.

Thanks for writing a book that kids really like to read!

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageThanks to all the wonderful students who’ve sent in entries!

There’s a little over a month left in the contest to pick the subtitle for the third book in Diego’s fantasy dragon series. There are more prizes now, too. The winner gets $100. Second place gets $50. The third and fourth place entries will each get $25. All four get their names on the publishing page in the book.

All you have to do is create the subtitle of Diego’s next fantasy fiction book. It has to be something that reflects the story.

In the 16th century, the Spanish Conquistadors are sailing to the Americas to find Diego’s ancestors, the Aztecs. If history repeats itself and the Mexica are destroyed, Diego’s people will suffer in the present time. If the Sol Dragones can stop the Conquistadors, they can save everyone in the present.

Think about the plot for this Hispanic book and create a subtitle.

Send all entries to this email address:
kevin@cryingcougarpress.com
Put “Diego Book Three Entry” in the subject line. Make sure and tell me your name, what grade you’re in, and the name of your school.

Check out the web page for complete rules and explanations:

http://www.diegosdragon.com/cooladventurebookscontests.html

Good luck with the top new fantasy book series around!

A testimonial:

“I have been reading the Conor and the Crossworlds series since Kevin came by my school. It was and will be full of emotion, exciting characters, and meaning. All the books have great plots, and I can barely wait for the next couple of books. Conor is a perfect mixture Harry Potter, Bobby Pendragon, and Percy Jackson.”

Wesley – Indio, California

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

11 years? 12? Is that how long it’s been?

I get to go scare the hell out of 130 new students today. Outside of my favorite dream vocation of writing fantasy fiction books for kids, I’m an evil statistics professor for a Cal State University. Going on 12 years there, by far the longest I’ve ever worked in one place.

I suppose it’s probably because it’s not really like work at all. I have a great schedule, I work with good people in a great department, and being around college students is a kick. And it affords me all the time I need to pursue my dream.

Every time I tell someone I teach stats they cringe. I didn’t like it when I took it, but I had a crappy teacher. I’d like to think I’m good at what I do, so I make the subject come alive for my classes. Hell, I teach them how to use probability to play poker, what could be better than that?

As much as I love my time off, I know I’ll be glad to be back around people again. Funny thing about human beings – we’re pretty messed up – but we do need each other. Alone is not good.

I have a lot of work to do on Diego’s next fantasy dragons novel, and that’s the great thing about my “job.” I’ll be able to get that book out before the holidays hit, and I’ll be able to hold another of my Hispanic books in my hand.

Life is good this morning. I’m glad. It’s been a tough summer.

And… Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

Image

I hope I don’t have to tell any author to have fun and treat the kids nicely.

Be excited that you’re there, excited about the kids as they’re walking into the library/multi-purpose room/gym. Fist bump them, high five, make little jokes, and S.M.I.L.E.!!!!!!

Every interaction you have with students will be remembered, so why not start right away, well before your talk begins? Don’t just stand in the front of the room waiting to be introduced, interact with the students. Kids love cool adults, but be genuine. If you try and fake it they’ll know instantly and brand you a geek/nerd/dork, or whatever term they’re using that week.

Yes, it will seem weird at first. It’s like any other social situation. I’m always nervous, but I dive in and the students like it. The more I interact, the easier it gets, and pretty soon I’m bouncing all over the place saying hi to everyone.

When the teacher/librarian/principal introduces me, we’re all one big happy family and the author talk fun begins!

A testimonial:

Here is the photo of you and my son Estebian taken at the Welk’s Resort. Please add us to your news letter. Estebian loves the books. We also enjoyed your reading of the book on youtube. Thanks for what you do in life…educating the future. Take care.

Norberto Bowen

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageSure is good to have courageous reviewers. I spoke on the phone with a member of a critique group I’m involved with, and he had many great ideas for Diego’s third fantasy dragons book.

The most important tip concerned the ending, which of course I thought was brilliant and would cause everyone reading this story to scream to the high heavens about how I’d left things with the principal characters in the story. This is the third time in my fledgling writing career that someone I respect a great deal has strongly suggested I change the ending of a fantasy fiction novel. My gut reaction is always to object, to protect my creation, but having lived around folks who are better able to digest things like this, I’ve can let the suggestions settle.

Of course the reviewer is correct. The ending is far too abrupt and leaves too many questions unanswered. My hope was that readers would be screaming for more, and telling everyone they know about the story. He said they would probably be screaming – for my head – for leaving them hanging like that.

So the work continues. This is how an author creates the best book he or she can. Get the story out, let people tear it to shreds, make the necessary changes, and keep fiddling until you have the best possible book you can deliver.

A testimonial:

I finally finished Diego’s Dragon! It was so good that I even recommended it to a few book clubs at my school! Your new series of books really are an inspiration, I’ve been writing books ever since I was five years old. I keep them in a small box, I’ve written over 50 long and small stories (sadly not published yet) When I grow up, I hope to write a series of books that could win awards! I hope you can count me as you #1 fan 🙂 Good job writing books and continue writing the Diego’s Dragon series!

Valerie – Island Creek Elementary

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageAnd the work begins…

I finished the first draft of Diego’s third fantasy dragons book in July, then submitted it to the critique group in August. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the initial rewrite, changing the historical aspect of the story. Then I’ll run through everyone’s line edits, and after that I’ll look through their general comments and do another rewrite. Hopefully I can find a few eager beavers to read the “final version” after that, just to make sure everything’s been done that can be done.

It’s a process, but one that improves an adventure book exponentially. Some day I may let the Penny Dreadfuls have a whack at Conor’s fantasy fiction story, but that’s way down the line. For now I’ll focus on Diego, even though Conor and the Champions have worked their way into his YA book. I think it’s brilliant, but we’ll see what the readers say.

A testimonial:

“Hello from The only radio station in the world owned and operated by kids, WKID 96.7 FM, located in Clearwater, Florida. For years we were looking for an exciting book to read live on air to our listeners. All the books that we thought would be interesting to read on air turned out to be very confusing to our listening audience, but three years ago we received our first book from Kevin Gerard titled Conor and the Crossworlds. After receiving the book we thought it was just going to be another boring book, BUT NO! JUST THE OPPOSITE! This book was awesome!! Not only did we love it and were able to relate to Conor because he was our age, but our listeners really loved to hear us reading the story on air every night. They begged us not to stop reading it due to the great suspense of the story. Every night when we would stop reading for the night the phone would start ringing with listeners very upset and wanting to know what happens next, of course our response was “you will have to tune in tomorrow night.” If we ever had a night that we were unable to broadcast we would receive hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. We just wanted to say thanks again for writing such a great, exciting story and we look forward for the next book.”

Adam and Eric – WKID 96.7, Clearwater, Florida

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

Image

And the work begins…

I finished the first draft of Diego’s third fantasy dragons book in July, then submitted it to the critique group in August. I’m about 2/3 of the way through the initial rewrite, changing the historical aspect of the story. Then I’ll run through everyone’s line edits, and after that I’ll look through their general comments and do another rewrite. Hopefully I can find a few eager beavers to read the “final version” after that, just to make sure everything’s been done that can be done.

It’s a process, but one that improves an adventure book exponentially. Some day I may let the Penny Dreadfuls have a whack at Conor’s fantasy fiction story, but that’s way down the line. For now I’ll focus on Diego, even though Conor and the Champions have worked their way into his YA book. I think it’s brilliant, but we’ll see what the readers say.

A testimonial:

“Hello from The only radio station in the world owned and operated by kids, WKID 96.7 FM, located in Clearwater, Florida. For years we were looking for an exciting book to read live on air to our listeners. All the books that we thought would be interesting to read on air turned out to be very confusing to our listening audience, but three years ago we received our first book from Kevin Gerard titled Conor and the Crossworlds. After receiving the book we thought it was just going to be another boring book, BUT NO! JUST THE OPPOSITE! This book was awesome!! Not only did we love it and were able to relate to Conor because he was our age, but our listeners really loved to hear us reading the story on air every night. They begged us not to stop reading it due to the great suspense of the story. Every night when we would stop reading for the night the phone would start ringing with listeners very upset and wanting to know what happens next, of course our response was “you will have to tune in tomorrow night.” If we ever had a night that we were unable to broadcast we would receive hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. We just wanted to say thanks again for writing such a great, exciting story and we look forward for the next book.”

Adam and Eric – WKID 96.7, Clearwater, Florida

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageYou’re in the parking lot – hurray – that means you found the school! I usually find it the night before so I won’t get lost the morning of the talk. At any rate:

1. Don’t pile everything onto a rolling cart right away. Go into the school’s administration building and find the office. You MUST check in, sign a visitor log, and get a visitor badge. You won’t get far without one.

2. Smile! Tell the nice person at the desk that you are the visiting author and you’d like to see the librarian. You’ll either wait for her or follow the directions and walk to the library yourself.

3. Smile! Meet the librarian and check out the library location and the room. It might be all the way on the other side of the school, so you wouldn’t want to be tugging a heavy, unstable cart full of books across the campus. If you can move your car closer, do so. Check out the setup of the room, primarily the lighting. If you’re using an A/V setup, you want the room to be as dark as possible when the time comes. Are chairs in place for you? Are the students going to sit on the floor?

4. Smile! Ask how long you have for your presentation. If you have less time than you like, you want to be thinking about how you’ll change it while you’re setting up your gear. If you have more time, mark a couple of passages in your books to read to the students.

5. Smile! Find out if there’s a tech person on campus, or a maintenance person who can help you with extension cords, tables, and a microphone if it’s a large group. Someone who knows where things are can make or break your visit.

I’ll reveal more in my next Blog. The more prepared you are, the better your visit will go. The most important thing is to be relaxed and ready when the students start coming into the library.

A testimonial:

“Kevin Gerard’s Conor and the Crossworlds series is an essential “must have” for any library or fantasy fan. Conor’s story stands out in the ever-growing fantasy genre as a fun, safe adventure for all ages. Mr. Gerard’s work does not stay on our shelf very long and patrons are eagerly awaiting the next installment.”
Michael – Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

ImageHeard the results of a survey the other day on the radio. It was about the top ten biggest regrets people have about their lives. The usual answers rang true; didn’t play more, didn’t spend more time with my kids, didn’t travel more, but the number one regret by a wide margin was this – people didn’t chase their dreams.

A lot of folks have ridiculed me for being the person I am, always with my head in the clouds, devising grandiose schemes, setting goals too high. I am SO glad I’m that way, SO glad I want to accomplish something spectacular with my life.

Your life – how brief it is – even in the context of human existence. In the overall flow of the universe? Forget it, we’re nothing more than a blip, if even that. Have you ever heard about someone, a distant family member, or a niece or nephew, or a friend, and you suddenly realize that a big chunk of your life has passed without you even being aware of it? Our lives end so quickly, how could anyone waste a day of their existence without grasping for a brass ring.

I’ll never forget the day – February 24, 2004 – almost ten years ago. That’s when I stood up in my cubicle, said enough is enough, and walked into the director’s office and quit on the spot. I was 46 years old, and I wasn’t going to sell one more day of my life for less than it was worth. I secured some teaching gigs and started writing fantasy like a maniac. I’ve just finished my tenth fantasy fiction novel, eight of which I’ll have published by the end of 2013.

Is it worth it? Is it worth the highs and lows, the extreme depression when I’m certain my stories will never go anywhere, or the overwhelming elation when I see kids lined up outside the library door waiting to buy Diego’s and Conor’s books?

Yes. I could still be sitting in that cubicle, and my biggest fear is sitting in a rocking chair 30 years from now, realizing I hadn’t given my all to achieve my dreams. I love my characters, especially Purugama, Conor’s teacher, and Magnifico, Diego’s fantasy dragon.

Don’t delay your journey for one more day!

A testimonial:

Kevin,

I have just purchased your 7 published books (Diego’s Dragon & Conor/Crossworlds) and written a review on Amazon, which should be posted shortly. Did I see or read somewhere that a third Diego’s Dragon book was in progress?  I certainly hope I didn’t dream that up. I’ll be in touch later when the books arrive, but there’s no rush as they are for Christmas.  (How nice for you that Amazon was almost out of several of your books — but more on the way soon.) Thanks again for your help in allowing Grandma to give a fantastic present!

   –Lyn– a definite fan

Onward to the Stars!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds

I belong to a writers’ critique group called The Penny Dreadfuls. As far as I can recall, way back in history certain writers would pen stories and sell them for a penny. Most of them must have been dreadful, thus the name. They are an outstanding group of writers and they understand the components of a good story.

We act as fresh eyes and minds when taking turns reading our work. At yesterday’s meeting the Pennies ripped apart Diego’s third fantasy dragons book. I mean from the definition of the word “beam” all the way to who conquered the Aztec nation, Cortés or Pizarro, and how that can be incorporated into the strength of the story.

I sat on a panel last Spring with a fairly well known author. The subject was editing your work, and as moderator, I steered the discussion toward critique groups. The author in question demonstrably condemned such groups, giving an example of shouting at the audience member that their work was crappy and they’ll never be a good writer. I was shocked, but if fairness, there probably are such groups. It makes me humbly appreciative that I fell into the Penny Dreadfuls. I’ve been with them for two or three years and my work has vastly improved because of it.

Google “writers’ groups” in your city. Find a good one and see if you can get accepted. Your books will thank you.

A testimonial:

“I am so very impressed. I remember the darkness from the third book more than anything, although the second book had such cool fight scenes and characters. This story is pure pleasure for me, I think because it was quite visual and exciting, but also very tender. The ending was absolutely amazing, it evoked all the feelings you would expect from an extremely well-written fantasy.” – Karen – Tierrasanta, California

Onward!

Kevin Gerard
Diego’s Dragon
Conor and the Crossworlds