An imagination roaming again…

As a writer who takes the business of writing seriously, I also like to escape the “seriousness” from time to time. My Blossom stories give me the opportunity to veer away from my many commitments in both life and with my publishers. They give me the chance to just let my imagination roam free. I believe every writer needs to take such frivolous time for themselves. The Blossom stories are definitely not literary gems, but I do hope you allow yourself the chance to take a few minutes to read them and, hopefully, experience a laugh or two.

This time I’m encouraging you to flit over to Blossom’s blog and read her latest adventure: Beach Blossom.

Starla Criser, aka Starla Kaye

Announcing our 2011 Scene Seminar!

The Scene is set!

Registration is now open for the Scene Seminar 2011, Saturday, March 26, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita.

This year’s event is going to be more intimate and hands-on, so we’re calling it the Scene Seminar. But you can still count on a great day devoted to great writing.

Kirt Hickman
Author Kirt Hickman

We’re excited to welcome back author and writing instructor Kirt Hickman, who gave a popular session last year based on his book, Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness. It was a lot of info packed into one hour, so Kirt is back to spend the day with us. He’ll give two in-depth workshops at three hours apiece:

  • How to Write a Great Story–building fictional worlds, character development, and plot
  • How to Write Your Story Well–scenes, narrative style, and dialogue

You can find out  more about Kirt on his website, www.kirthickman.com

Click here to register — space is limited. See you in March!

Celebrate Kansas’ 150th with Writers & Readers

Kansas 150Kansas Day is Saturday, Jan. 29, and this year is the Sunflower State’s sesquicentennial. There are dozens of events taking place statewide, all year long, to celebrate, and some even have a literary bent. Here are a few Kansas Day events for readers and writers, and you can find more at www.ks150.org.

Jan. 29: Postcards from Home: Images and Poetics from Kansas, a 150th Event
6-9 p.m., Warehouse 414, 414 SE 2nd St., Topeka
An all Kansas-inspired art and poetry event.

Feb. 14: Literature with Lunch: What Kansas Means to Me, edited by Thomas Fox Averill
1 p.m., Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave., Topeka
Discuss this year’s choice for Kansas Reads 2011. Thirteen essayists and four poets try to map the spiritual topography of Kansas and explain why this particular patch of prairie is so dear. They share the conviction that Kansas represents something powerful, something significant, something noteworthy. Read and discuss the book, or attend and listen to learn more.

Feb. 17: Kansas Poems of William Stafford, ed. by Denise Low
7 p.m., Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence
“Kansas at 150” TALK book discussion presented by the Kansas Humanities Council.
William Stafford may have been named Oregon’s poet laureate, but he was a Kansas boy at heart — born in Hutchinson — and his youth in Kansas deeply inflected his poetry. “Mine was a Midwest home — you can keep your world,” he proclaimed in his poem “One Home.” Stafford’s poetry is rooted in a sense of place, and the work in this collection shows how Kansas as a place continued to inform his thought and verse.

Amazon/ Kindle playing with authors again

Personally, I have had fairly good success this last year with my books listed at Amazon, especially the Kindle books. But they do like to play around with publishers and consequently authors and how they treat them in regards to royalties.

I was reading a post from OWFI today that went over some of what Amazon does about royalties. They offer publishers two different percentages: 35% and 70%. For a book to qualify for the 70% royalty it must have a minimum price of $2.99.

Amazon has recently joined in on the “lending book” stuff that Barnes and Noble also does. If the book meets the qualifications to receive a 70% royalty, the book is now automatically signed up for Amazon’s Kindle Lending Program. What this means is that a Kindle owner can purchase a copy of the book and then lend the copy to another Kindle owner for a week or so. And that, in turn, means the author and publisher miss out on that additional sale of the book.

A publisher can opt out of being part of the Lending Program, but then the royalty on the book is lowered to 35%.

Just something to think about and check into with your publisher.

Starla Criser

Need a bovine chuckle? Blossom has a new story

If you would like to take a step away from serious writing, if you need a chuckle or a simple feel-good story, try reading one of my Blossom and Ferdinand stories. Blossom is a cow with attitude and imagination. Let your imagination run free, too, and stop in to read her newest story: Pistol-Packing Mamas, Zombies and Cats!

Blossom and Friends website.

Starla Criser, writing as Starla Kaye

Excited about KWA’s new year

I am very excited about the changes for KWA this year, not that the previous years have been bad. Everything changes over time. Hopefully, the changes help smooth procedures out, help add benefits to members, and help everyone get more comfortable with their fellow authors.

Erin has done a wonderful job creating a new website and blog for KWA. Her time is stretched so thin that we all need to give her a special thank-you. Thank you, Erin!

Please be sure to check back here often for more exciting new things in KWA this year.

Starla Criser, KWA 2011 Secretary

Goodbye to a Longtime Member

Rachel Dayvault, a former KWA board member and author of the novel Toward the Sun-Rising, passed away Jan. 12. You can view her obituary here.

Rachel was a published writer at 16, worked as a travel writer, and contributed over three dozen creative non-fiction stories and essays to area publications. She also wrote humorous verse, one novel, and one compilation.

Wichitan Wins Newbery Medal

Moon Over ManifestI heard the news last night and I still get actual chills whenever I think about it (apart from the single-digit shivers we’re all having this week). Local author Clare Vanderpool has won the John Newbery Medal for children’s literature! Her YA novel, Moon Over Manifest, was published last fall.

This is exciting for me on a couple of levels. First, I’m completely thrilled that Kansas has its first ever Newbery winner. It’s considered the Pulitzer of children’s books. This is huge. Second, Clare is a first-time author. It’s almost unheard-of for a debut novel to win. Last, I have a small personal connection to Clare; she was the youth ministry director for the Wichita diocese when I was in high school and very active in our regional youth group leadership. Between that work and her role as mother of four children, Clare clearly has insight into the thoughts and dreams of young people.

I had a wild thought this morning before I’d had much coffee. College football’s bowl season just ended; Oregon and Auburn fans were crazed with excitement yesterday as their teams fought for the championship. For writers like us, Clare is part of our home team. We cheer, we’re proud, we want to brag a little whenever an author in our midst gets published or honored. So, pump your fist for Clare today and let her achievement serve to pump up your own belief that if she can do it, we can too. Go Team Kansas!

Read the Wichita Eagle’s review of Moon Over Manifest.