Monday, September 5, 2011

Random Acts of Publicity Week: A Selection of Favorites

Author Darcy Pattison had a great idea a few years ago: a week authors could devote to promoting other authors. This is the week, and I'm going to start right off with Darcy.

Last fall I had the pleasure of attending one of Darcy's weekend-long novel revision retreats. Let me just say that if you ever have the opportunity to attend one, jump. She walks participants through the techniques outlined in her clever book Novel Metamorphosis, and I had enough new ideas and strategies to see me through any number of novel revisions. Not to mention seeing in bold where my work was flawed and what I could do to shore up sags.

I've said it before, but I'll say again: I could not revise a thing without the help of Donald Maass and his two outstanding books: Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. I learn something new each time I re-read - which I do each time I revise.

I have struggled with plot, but Martha Alderson is a clear light in the dark forest. Her Blockbuster Plots video is a staple of mine, and I never plot now without checking my draft against her brilliant template.

Now, I don't review fiction; but I'd like to introduce readers to two authors whose work I admire greatly. Both are Canadian, and their books don't get lots of publicity in the States, but they deserve an audience.

The first is a man who writes across genres - adult, young adult, middle grade - and he is richly talented. His name is Alan Cumyn.

Alan has written three charming and hilarious middle grade novels that commence with the award-winning The Secret Life of Owen Skye. These novels are the best kind of "boy books" - totally engaging, respectful of their audience, beautifully written. His newest fiction is right at the top of my TBR pile, a young adult novel, Tilt.

The second novelist I'd like to honor is Sarah Ellis. (Sarah writes reviews for The Horn Book, but don't let that left-brained activity fool you. She also writes fiction with heart.) Sarah's award-winning middle grade novel Odd Man Out had me laughing out loud. She, like Alan, is able to voice the mind of a young boy with exceptional clarity.

You may not find Alan's and Sarah's books on your local bookstore shelves but they are worth ordering - for yourself, or a young reader you know, who will truly thank you.

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