Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NCTE Convention, Orlando, Florida

Hi, all! Just returned from the National Council of Teachers of English national convention in Orlando, Florida. I had a *wonderful* time! I was asked to be one of the featured authors for the special Saturday luncheon, and that was a great time. I was there with Lois Lowry, Arnold Adoff, Carole Boston Weatherford, and too many others to list. I was placed at a table with the marvelously gifted poet Marilyn Singer (pictured with me above), and she and I talked about our work and told stories for the others at our table. The book signing afterward was also a lot of fun because I got to meet a bunch of wonderful people. The convention was at the Coronado Beach Resort at Disney World, so I got to stay in one of the Disney resort hotels - -and even had time to visit all four of Disney's kingdoms. I think I'd have to say I liked Animal Kingdom the best, although the Magic Kingdom is still hard to beat. The weather was nearly eighty degrees, and no rain fell while we were there. All in all, it was a glorious time. I'll post a few photos of the trip.
I'm still writing the next story and am having a great time doing so. More about that in a future post. Until then, I hope all of you have a holiday season full of peace and joy! Jeff

Description of pictures shown, from top to bottom:

1). Marilyn Singer and me at author luncheon.
2). Me with Sally Walker at the book signing in the
main convention hall.
3). Carole Boston Weatherford and me at the book signing.
4). Linda and me at the Coronado Beach Resort,
main convention hub.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Researching Murder!

Hi, all!
I'm still conducting research to find out more about the gruesome murder that will be described in my next book. I managed to dig out records that had been "lost" (conveniently, I might add) for a very long time, and these records shed light on the subject in ways I could not have imagined. As a matter of fact, I got chills as I read through the documents - and I hope readers will have the same reaction when they read the story. I'm having so much fun with this next book!
I've also taken some time for myself -- just to have fun. I've also done some more book signings for Olivia's Story and Inman's War. I'll try to attach a couple of pictures to this message. One is of a recent signing, and the other is the Pumpkin Festival in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Happy reading!


Sunday, September 5, 2010

American Pickers

Hey there!
I hope all of you are having a wonderful and safe Labor Day holiday. I've had a blast. Yesterday I got to spend some time with Frank and Danielle from the "American Pickers" television show. It airs every Monday night on the History Channel, and if you haven't yet seen the show, you really should. It isn't the Top Rated cable television show in America for nothing! All I can say is this: Frank and Danielle are wonderful people! I also visited the American Pickers' shop, and if you get a chance, you should, too. It is like a museum to the past -- and a lot of fun to see how the business is run.
I'm also writing today because I wanted to share what Danielle is now reading. Take a look at the picture attached to this post and you'll see her holding a copy of Olivia's Story! I know this all probably falls into the area of shameless self-promotion and I'll apologize in advance for that, but I was so impressed by Danielle that I wanted to share this.
Again, I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday weekend.
More soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wonderful Travel!

Hello, all!
All I can say is this: The British Isles are gorgeous! I did some book stuff and sightseeing while making my way through England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I did a major chunk of a chapter for the new book while on a ferry in the Irish Sea, visited a wonderful historic site in Ireland related to the subject matter of the new book to get inspiration, and even sketched out more chapters while in London. Of everything I've seen along the way, I think I loved Edinburgh, Scotland the most. Edinburgh was home for Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns -- and even J.K. Rowling is claimed now as a "family member of Edinburgh." I did see the restaurant where she wrote a good part of the first Harry Potter book, and I can now certainly understand how the city inspired her. I also got to visit the Writers' Museum in Edinburgh and was struck by just how important this city has been to the world's literary heritage. I'll post with this message a picture of the view from my balcony in Edinburgh. What a beautiful sight to see upon waking each morning! What a place to write!
I'll write more soon.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

St. Louis Writers Guild

The *wonderful* folks at the St. Louis Writers Guild asked me to speak to the group this past April about writing narrative nonfiction stories. I had a great time with this group of incredibly talented writers. After the presentation, I was also asked to write a few words about the literary elements of narrative nonfiction, and these words were just published in their publication called "The Scribe." My article is called "The Art of Narrative Nonfiction" (on pages 1 and 6). For those who'd like to read the article, the article appears in the "Summer 2010" edition, so please get a copy of that. Also, here is the link to the St. Louis Writers Guild: stlwritersguild.org



Exciting News!

Exciting news! A mighty fine writer/producer from Hollywood has just secured rights to work on making Olivia's Story into a made-for-tv movie. We visited several times about this, and the made-for-tv movie format just seems to be a perfect fit for a story of this type. I'm so excited about this I can barely sit still! Right now, a "story-treatment" is being put together, and I've been asked to consult as this is being created. A story-treatment is, basically, like a "story board." That is, it is more or less a very detailed description of the different events and scenes that will be in the production. I am really looking forward to helping with this project. Hey -- when the made-for-tv movie is completed, that will also be the excuse I need to get a new, gigantic, flat-screen tv!
More later..................

Friday, May 14, 2010

Researching new book!

Hello again!
I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. I have been doing quite a few book events related to Olivia's Story, which was released in February. I've participated in events at bookstores, writers' guilds/groups, student groups (at the high school level and at a university), and even talked with a genealogy society that was interested in how to conduct historical research for stories. I've had a great time at all these events, and I will have many more related to Olivia's Story as the summer moves along. Olivia's Story has also rekindled interest in Inman's War, so I've also been asked to speak to more groups about that. Some groups have even asked me to come speak about both of these books! I also found out some wonderful news yesterday. A very talented Hollywood producer has decided Olivia's Story would be a fine story for a "made-for-tv" movie, and he is now in the process of agenting the project to the appropriate television networks that do original movies specifically for the tv format. I'd *love* to see Olivia's Story as a made-for-tv movie, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I should know more about this soon and will give updates as I can.
I'm also already under contract to write my next book, and I've also been on the road quite a lot to do the background research for this project. I typically take about a year to do the background research for a book, and then it takes me about six months to write it. A writer can not rest after a book is published -- he or she is always looking at the next project; that's just the life of a writer. It was back when I was doing research for Olivia's Story that I actually ran across information that spiked my interest for my next book. At this point I'm not supposed to say any specifics about what the next book will be about, but I can tell this much: It will be another historically true story told through the voices of the people who were involved in it. I can also say it will be the story of an important American who eventually ended up being murdered. I can also say I think I can now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, show that the person who was said to have done this murder really didn't do it! The story will have plenty of mystery, mayhem, and even an exciting tale of murder. The only other clue I'll provide now is that the picture of the statue posted with this entry has something important to do with the story. Sorry -- that's all the clues I can give now. I'll write more about my research for this book from time to time and will be adding more clues as I write along.
I hope all of you are enjoying Olivia's Story. If you get a chance, I'd appreciate it if you'd send me a note (either here at the site or in care of Paragon House) to let me know what you think of it.
Take care -- and read on!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wild, wonderful week!

Hi, all!
The past week and a half included so many book events and was so much fun I don't quite know where to begin. My adventures started when I was invited to be on the "St. Louis on the Air" program on National Public Radio. The host for the program was Don Marsh, a person who is one of the all-time best interviewers. He is always meticulously prepared, asks detailed questions, and makes authors feel right at home in the studio. We talked about Olivia's Story for almost an hour before taking calls from listeners. It was so wonderful to be able to talk about Olivia's Story in St. Louis -- where the events of the story took place. I lived in St. Louis for a long time, so this was like "being home" for me. I'll be posting a link to the program on my website in about a week if you'd like to listen to it.
I next was on Fox television. Television studios today are nothing like what they used to be. The studios once were filled with people lugging cameras around very sparse furniture while trying not to trip over dozens of cords of one type or another. Today, most everything is done electronically, and the programs are choreographed like a fine ballet. Before going on the program, I was asked to stand in a specific spot off to the right side of the main interview area. Then, while the national weather was being reported on the other side of the room, I was directed to move up to the main table to sit with the news anchors. This was done quickly and precisely. The hosts were Andy Banker and Theresa Woodard, two incredibly gifted newscasters. After the weather program finished, the cameras were then focused on us while a photo of the book cover was shown to the side. Both Andy and Theresa asked me questions about the story, and I responded as quickly as I could. Television involves a very specific amount of time allowed for each segment, so all responses should fit the time frame. I don't naturally talk all that fast, so this was a challenge for me. I wanted to give a good background of the story, but I also knew the clock was ticking. I had a *wonderful* time. Everyone at the station treated me so well -- and even let me look around the studio to see how everything is done behind the scenes. I'll attach a picture of me on the program so you can see what the studio looked like that morning.
A book signing followed later on that Saturday at the new Barnes & Noble store in Fenton, Missouri, which is a southern suburb of St. Louis proper. The store manager (Randy Carrington) and the book event coordinator (Deborah Horn) had everything set up perfectly. I brought a sheet cake with the title of the book written in the icing so that those who came to hear me talk about the book could eat and enjoy themselves. I signed a TON of books that day and had a wonderful time visiting with readers. I'll also be posting a picture of this event shortly.
Then, this past Tuesday night, I was asked to be part of the "Live From Prairie Lights" series out of Iowa City, Iowa. This is a reading series in which writers meet at Prairie Lights Book and give a reading and interact with an audience is their studio, which is on the top floor of the building. The program is also streamed across the Armed Forces Radio Network, so I was proud to provide a reading for all those in military service across the globe. This was a fairly unusual program in that I was asked to give the background of the book, read several passages, and then take questions from a live audience. One of the individuals in the audience was Paula Perkins Taylor, who is the niece of Inman and Olivia. I have known Paula for a couple of years, and it was wonderful to see her again. The radio program will soon be archived in the "Live From Prairie Lights" file, so stay tuned......
I have another book signing this afternoon from 2-4 at the Waterloo, Iowa, Barnes & Noble store, so I better sign off. I'll write more soon.
Be save and well -- and happy reading!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hi, everyone!
This will be my last chance to write for about two weeks. I'm headed off for the first part of the book tour for Olivia's Story. I mentioned some of the events in a previous note, but I did want to add another one to the list today. On February 13, the same day I'm doing the signing at the Barnes & Noble in Fenton, MO (a suburb of St. Louis), I'll also be on Fox2 television. I'm supposed to be at the television studio about 7:30 a.m. for "hair and makeup." If you've seen my picture, you are probably also wondering the same thing I am: "What in the world could they do to my hair to make it look better!!!" --ha ha. My hair looks the same no matter what I do to it, so it should be interesting to see what they do to me that morning. Anyway, I "think" the program is scheduled to air live between 8-8:30 a.m. If I find out the exact time, I'll try to sneak back to this blog to give an update.
I'll write again as soon as I can.
Take care.

P.S. The chili-burger I had the night the book was released really did make me burp all night! But in the context of that wonderful day, it was also delicious. For an author, there aren't many things more exciting that Book Release Day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hi, again!
I'm floating on Cloud 9 because today is the day: Official Book Release Day for Olivia's Story! As of today, Olivia's Story is available nationally -- and internationally. This is another of the very special days in the life of an author. This is the day when the book can be found on the shelves of bookstores and on a wide variety of electronic locations.
Until "Book Release Day" actually arrives, a book is still sort of a formless collection of words. Having the "real thing" available brings the whole process of publishing a book full circle. Many of you know Olivia's Story grew out of my work on Inman's War. Olivia's Story isn't a sequel, but there are some characters and events the two works have in common. So, after writing Inman's War, I felt that I had another story that should be told. When I first decided to write Olivia's Story, I was sitting in a hamburger joint in Waterloo, Iowa. I was by myself that night and doing my best to eat a spicy-hot chili-burger with fries. I distinctly remember putting down my chili-burger, spreading a napkin out on the table, and then outlining the first few chapters of what would become Olivia's Story on that napkin. What prompted me to start writing then? I honestly couldn't tell you. Maybe it was the atmosphere, which reminded me of Olivia's favorite restaurant back in St. Louis. Maybe it was loudness of the restaurant, which reminded me of the lunchroom at the high school where Olivia taught. Maybe it was the chili-burger! Whatever it was, I can say the writing of the story began in a restaurant -- and everything came full circle when the book was released today. And you know what? I'm going to go back to that same restaurant tonight and celebrate --and probably burp my head off after another chili-burger!
One more thing today: Please click on this address: http://www.paragonhouse.com/home.php
This will take you to the Paragon House website. Scroll until you get to Olivia's Story. On the main Olivia's Story page, then scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will then find a link you can click on to hear me reading the first ten minutes of the book. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Upcoming Events

Hello! Today I thought I'd list a few upcoming book events. Olivia's Story is set for national release on February 1, which means the month of February will be one whale of a lot of fun. Here are a few of the scheduled events related to the release of Olivia's Story:

On February 11 I'll be appearing on Don Marsh's "St. Louis On The Air" radio program -- on station KWMU. The hour-long program will begin at 11:00 a.m. (Central time), and a "call-in" segment will be featured near the end of the hour. The program will also be streamed through National Public Radio.
On February 13, I'll be signing books at the new Barnes & Noble store in Fenton, Missouri, which is a suburb of St. Louis. I'll be signing from 1-4 at the store that afternoon, and I'll also be bringing cake for everyone to help celebrate the release of the book. If you are in the area, please stop by for a slice.
On February 16 I'll be appearing on "Live From Prairie Lights," a nationally-known radio program which originates at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, Iowa. The program begins that evening at 6:30 p.m. (Central time). There will also be a call-in segment toward the end of the program. The program will also be streamed across the Armed Services Radio Network. Please call in with questions/comments that night. I'd love to hear from you.
On February 20 I'll be signing books at Barnes & Noble in Waterloo, Iowa, from 2-4 in the afternoon. I'll also have cake at this event, so please stop by for a visit and a slice of cake if you are in the area.
There will also be several television events in February; I'll post them soon.
Take care -- and thanks for reading!


Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Here it is! This is what the front of the cover looks like.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Olivia is ready!

January 17, 2010

Hello again!
Friday was an incredibly exciting day for me, a day that all authors look forward to. My editor sent me copies of the new book: Olivia's Story: The Conspiracy of Heroes Behind "Shelley v. Kraemer." There are few words that can describe the joy felt the day a new book becomes a reality. All the hard work done by all the people who are behind the publication of a book comes together in one beautiful package. As I opened the box and took my first look at the book, I was in awe. My publisher really went all-out on the "presentation" of this book. Everything -- from the absolutely gorgeous book jacket to the internal layout of the book -- looks beautiful. I did laugh, though, while looking at the inside flap of the back part of the book jacket. There is *the* picture of me -- my official publicity shot. Yes, I need to get a new picture; this one makes it look like a tree is growing out of my arm. Anyway, back to the book... Friday night I sat on my couch and read through it. This first look through a completed book is such an exciting time for an author. There were places where I could remember exactly what I was doing when I wrote those passages, and a flood of memories came back. While looking through the book, I felt so many wonderful emotions. I just kept saying to myself, "Wow! It is really here!" Olivia's Story will be released nationally February 1. In the meantime, if you'd like to see a "commercial" for the book, please go to this YouTube address: http://www.youtube.com/UNIEnglish1

I'll be back soon. In the meantime, take care!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Olivia's Story"

Hi everyone! I hope all of you had a happy and healthy holiday season.
I have just a few announcements to pass along. The first is that before the holidays I finished checking the last of the "galley proofs" for the next book, "Olivia's Story: The Conspiracy of Heroes Behind Shelley v. Kraemer." Galley proofs are the special pages put together by the publisher as the last part of the main process of publishing a book. The author and editors at the publishing house check through these galleys one last time to make sure everything is as it should be. Then, when the galleys are approved by all parties, the book goes to print. "Olivia's Story" is right on schedule, and it will be printed and ready to be released in bookstores nationwide on February 1, 2010. I'll write more about the galleys and the process of a book being published in a future writing. For now, I'll just say that I'm tickled that "Olivia's Story" is on schedule! A commercial for the book has also been prepared, and it is already posted on YouTube. I'll be posting that link in a couple of days, so please check back.
I'll be back soon!
Happy reading!