Thursday, February 08, 2007

Drake's Debut

I often here horror stories about great writers who don't get the media attention they deserve. But in the past few months Portland phenom, Monika Drake's name has been drizzling down to Atlanta. She has finally published her novel, Clown Girl: A Novel(hold your mouse over this title to see something cool.) And from what I've read so far she deserves all the praise. But I wonder...are most authors willing to put the time in like she has done, willing to work their own community before they want to go national? Maybe it's me. I don't feel like enough ATLaliens know about my writing. I haven't done any readings this year. I think I need to plug into town, host a spring reader series. Just thinking....Here's an excerpt. Note Clown Girl isn't Christian Fiction, so don't clown with me in the comments about it. Kay?

Chapter 1.

The Clown Falls Down; or, Sniffles Stumbles

An excerpt from the novel by MONICA DRAKE

Balloon Tying for Christ was the cheapest balloon manual I could find. The day I bought it, it was hidden on the lowest rung of a dusty spinner rack down at Callan's Novelties, snuggled alongside shopworn how-to guides: Travel Europe by Clown Circuit!, Rubber Vomit Skits for Beginners, and Latex: The Beauty of Cuts, Bruises, Scars, and Contusions.

Want to tie the Virgin Mary? Start with a light blue balloon. For Jesus, use Easter green. There are tips on tying a crucifix, a lamb, even a Sacred Heart in two sizes, big or small. Ooo la la! These tricks are simple but smart. The grand finale is the pietÀ, Mary with a grown Jesus sprawled across her lap in a four-balloon extravaganza like a tangled link of sausages, or a Japanese bondage trick. The pietÀ or bondage, sacred and profane; in balloon art the two are that close together, one thin twist.

Taking Your Novel Short

Filename: j0430049.wmf Keywords: books, girls, people ... File Size: 7 KB

Collin kicked too hard. The force of his leg’s strong thrust pushed his head right into a very large rock. Stars bounced in front of his eyes for about two seconds until he saw his blood slither through the water like a red ribbon. A heavy pain crashed into his skull’s base. If he didn't move soon, he would drown down here.

Before he could pray for himself he saw a woman coming toward him. She wasn’t swimming, more like floating. A wide round light moved behind her. And her hair was the color of the water and the stars over Bria. But her face…he had seen before. It was the woman of his dreams. She reached out her arms and caught him. If his mother weren’t dead, he would have sworn she smelled and held him just like her. He looked up into her eyes. They glowed. He couldn’t speak, but he could feel his mind asking her.

“Are you the woman in my dreams?”

She smiled. “No. I’m your angel and I have a word for you.”

Then he fell asleep or surrendered his soul. He was in too much bliss to know whether he was living or dead. But he heard her message loud and clear.
- an excerpt from The Garden of Leah

My novel rewrites itself. We're in the third draft and I'm feeling a greater flow with this version. However, I plan to enter a few short story contests and submit a short story to a Christian magazine between now and the end of March. How can I do that without killing Collin's flow?

Use your novel to build short stories.

Chuck Palahniuk and Claudia Burney have hipped me to this new thing. Instead of frying my writer's brain. Why don't I maximize this story? Hmm...after a little thought I find this to be a great idea. Let me tell you a few reasons why?

1. You can build buzz for the novel.

Introducing your main characters in short stories for magazines, can build more buzz for your upcoming book.

2. You can test your characters against your demographics.

Want to know if your character resonates with your core audience? Put them in a short story and get the story published in a magazine your audience reads. Readers will give you feedback. They will follow you to your site. You could use them to form a special focus group.

3. Use a short story to build a local focus group.

I do this all the time with my local reading events. Write a macro fiction piece or do a dramatization with your character at an open mic or one of my great reader series events. Wait for feedback from fellow authors and people, who usually aren't readers, but love a good story.

4. Make a slideshow short of your story and put it on CCM or Myspace.

I haven't did this yet. But I can't wait to set this up. Take your story and make it a graphic novel and upload it to MySpace or YouTube or CCM or whatever. See what happens.

5. Turn your short story into a blog.

Make your character real and see how many people flock to see what happens next to her.

6. Earn some money to hire a publicist for your novel.

The Daily Sacrament contest has a $250.00 kitty attached to it. Instead of blowing that money on new shoes, more books, or going to the Women in Faith Conference, use it to hire a publicist or throw a swanky book release/Mother's Day Brunch.

7. Get into your character's world better.

By the time you write a short story about Collin, you should be able to talk him up to any person, editor, agent, newscaster, librarian in town. Use this as an opportunity to understand your novel better.

8. Submit your story to your church newsletter in installments.

Serialize this short story for your church congregation. It's a great way to let your church family know about your gift.

9. Make it a book signing gift or teaser.

You're sitting in a bookstore hoping to sell your novel? Build buzz for your booksigning by leaving bound copies of your short story on the counter two weeks before your book signing for customers to pick up. Also leave them at libraries, consignment shops, your local Kinkos(where you should get this done) and grocery stores.

10. Submit to Online Magazines.

You build readers, who love short fiction. They may come over to the darkside and read your novel. You could become nominated for best short fiction of the year and gain a wider audience.

Another Bonus Why.

Use the short story to buikd a focus group.

While I am completing this novel, I have about twenty hungry teenageers awaiting my next installment of a Christian teen scream that I have been writing. Claudia really encouraged me to take this story further. I plan to put my teen scream online this summer just in time for the girls' vacation.

Do you have any other reasons why taking your novel short is a good idea? Anyone entering a short story contest this year? Anyone would like to share one? Trackback it here.



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