Sunday, October 27, 2013

Neat Picture

I was searching through my picture files and I ran across this wonderful shot that I'd forgotten about. Don't know who took it, so sorry about not giving you credit, but it was from the Hillbilly Formal banquet for OWL a couple of years ago. Mary Horner and her husband are the couple on the left, and myself and Delois McGrew are the odd pair on the right. What a night we had. Delois was president the year this picture was taken. I was her VP. The banquet was a success. And I believe that Delois is wearing the infamous "red cowboy" boots. This is the one and only night she wore them...and they hurt her feet...perfect justice. She tried to outbid me at the May auction the spring before. She won, her feet were too big, the rest is history. The boots now rest on my shelf by my desk for inspiration when trying my best to write a western story.
I know this has nothing to do with writing, except for the fact that the picture was taken at an Ozarks Writers League event, but I think I'll hunt through my picture files every few days so I can dance down memory lane more often.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pam Foster in Eureka Springs

High Hill Press author, Pamela Foster, is teaching a workshop at the Village Writing School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas this coming week-end. Pam's novel, Redneck Goddess, is a great story with southern charm and Latin lovers. Bigfoot Blues is a steamy walk through romance set in the Bigfoot Country of the rainforests and mountains of our great Northwest.
Pam's skills are evident in her writing. It's obvious by reading her work, that she knows the craft. Go to Pam's blog, or to The Village Writing School Facebook page to find more information. And if you are in Eureka, look them up.

Read About Pamela Foster
Village Writing School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Friday, September 27, 2013

Playing St. Barbara by Marian Szczepanski

A hauntingly beautiful book, inside and out.  Texas author, Marian Szczepanski has written a story of family and community and all the trials and tribulations that go with each. Set in a small coal mining village in the early part of the 20th century, Playing St. Barbara shows an eerie connection between St. Barbara, the patron saint of coal miners, and the people in the village who struggle with their faith, often plagued with prejudices and envies. Available everywhere. Find out more about Marian and her debut novel at Marian Szczepanski  There is a link on the author's site to a new Huffington Post review.

Quackers Wants to Fly

Quackers Wants to Fly, has been flying off the shelves. Available everywhere, it's a great book for your little one, or your little grandchild. It's a sweet story about an impatient little duck who can't wait to fly. His friends at the pond help him along the way. It's written by Illinois author, Susan Wolff, and illustrated by Canadian native, Justin Currie. Call your local bookstore and ask them to carry Quackers Wants to Fly. You can find more information about this book and its author by going to Friends at the Pond   Can also be ordered directly through High Hill Press.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Nick Nixon

Several years ago a troubadour named Nick Nixon walked into a critique group I belong to and read a story he'd written. From the first word, I knew I was in the presence of a brilliant writer. A writer who could put words on the  paper that would make the reader see his world in Technicolor. Nick had a terrific career in the country music industry and wrote and sang songs that made the top ten. Nick's voice is amazing, both in his singing and in his stories. He sets the scene and wallops you with the power of his words.
Nick and I soon developed a friendship, and I learned he was writing his memoirs. I offered to help him get the book published, because I knew his name would help sell it. The editors and agents I talked to from commercial publishing houses told us that Nick's book had to be 75% music years and 25 about his life growing up. But it soon became obvious that Nick needed to get those growing up years onto paper before he went on. What High Hill Press decided to do was publish a shorter book using stories about his younger years as well as a few fiction pieces and essays he wrote. It's a collection that will catch you from the very first page and hold on to you till the last word.
When I was a teen I listened to the Beatles and The Rolling Stones...mostly to make my parents mad because they thought rock and roll was sent directly from the devil to lure all us teenagers down the path of sin and debauchery. How I wish I'd listened to country music back then so I could have known about Nick Nixon and his way with words earlier.
For those who know Nick, you know he's had some health problems lately and we've been selling books to help him with his towering medical bills. All the profits from the sale of Nick's book go directly to Nick. So please pick up a copy of Dreams Worked Magic today. We had a book out in October by the same title, but we've added five new stories to this one. Plus there's a neat blurb on the back cover from famous western writer, Dusty Richards. Go to our website and click on the Paypal button to order your copy of Dreams Worked Magic.

If you live in the St. Louis area, or even if you don't, you won't want to miss the concert being given in honor of Nick on April 21st. I've pasted the flyer below.
Check out Nick's music on YouTube.
Here is a link and you can find more videos right along with this one. Have fun listening to some of the best country music you'll ever hear Nick Nixon 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bigfoot--Fact or Fiction?

Let me just get the joke out of the way—here's Mitch Hedberg on Bigfoot:

That said, there are people that dedicate their lives to researching the elusive Bigfoot (which is both singular and plural, by the way, no matter what the show Finding Bigfoot would have you believe). One of the most well-known groups that does this is the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. They post articles, examine sightings, and compile evidence on Bigfoot. If you feel like reading up on possibility of Bigfoot, I’d suggest heading over there to get a basis provided by people who seem to be very scientific in their methods.

Another good place to read about theories is on Reddit's Bigfoot subreddit. Here people post links to a variety of articles and videos as well as discuss various theories on Bigfoot. There was also an AMA (Ask Me Anything) featured on Reddit about a year and a half ago. Reddit is an interesting forum for discussion because of the multitude of people who frequent the site—while not all the people who go there are experts, they bring fresh viewpoints to the table.

In case you don't have time to go through those links, here's an overview of common questions and theories about Bigfoot:
  • There is skeletal evidence of a species of large ape called Gigantopithecus blacki originating in Western Asia. Many Bigfoot enthusiasts believe that these large apes (or their descendants) are still around. 
  • There are roughly 400 reported sightings per year, and experts claim that an estimated 2,000 to 6,000 Bigfoot live in North America. 
  • Some characteristics of Bigfoot: They walk upright; are up to 8-feet tall; are covered in black/brown/red fur; emit an unpleasant smell; seem to display intelligence and senses of smell, vision, and hearing; and weigh 500 to 700 pounds.
  • One of the most common questions asked is if Bigfoot do exist, why has a corpse never been found? Some explanations offered by enthusiasts: Bigfoot live in densely forested areas and their remains are reclaimed by the wild; Bigfoot carry off and/or bury their dead; and Bigfoot, like some animals, hide when they believe they are going to die. Any of these, combined with the fact that there are believed to be few of these creatures, could explain the lack of remains.
What about you guys? Are Bigfoot real? Have you or anyone you know had a Bigfoot encounter? Let us know what you think in the comments!

And while you're pondering the existence of Bigfoot, go check out Pamela Foster's new book, Bigfoot Blues, as well as the new collection, Bigfoot Confidential: Finally the Truth Revealed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey, Dusty Richards Saw Bigfoot!

                      Bigfoot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Say, I work around High Hill Press on the cowboy side, over at Cactus Country, and that's where I usually stay. But recently my wife Pat told me about a book from High Hill.  She said it's one of the neatest books she'd read in a long time. The books is Bigfoot Confidential: Finally the Truth Revealed and is a collection of short stories, both real and fiction, about encounters with Bigfoot. Pat said she laughed until she cried and I agree with her, it's hilarious.  The collection is sort of like a companion piece to Pam Foster's great novel, Bigfoot Blues.

Down here in Arkansas, folks take Bigfoot real serious. They call him the Foulk Monster. Well, back when a bunch of sightings were being reported in a town by the same name near Texarkana, there was one special sighting that made the news. A guy walked out of his hotel room and saw the monster getting a drink out of the swimming pool. The man had a heart attack and died. Later, three teenage boys apologized; it had been one of them in a gorilla suit. That isn't in the book, but there are other stories, some funny, some a little spooky if you ask me. Read Bigfoot Confidential, and make sure and pick up a copy of Bigfoot Blues. You won't be sorry.
Dusty Richards, author of Blue Roan Colt.

Bigfoot Encounters

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Query Letters

The query letter I'd love to receive.

Well, okay, High Hill really wouldn't expect to get a query letter like the old-fashion letter above, but we do want to receive them in a professional manner. There isn't anything we at High Hill can do to make writing a query any easier, but we can assure you we don't have to receive a query that is perfect. What we do want is for them to be professional in other ways. As an example, I received a query not long ago that simply said in two sentences. I have a novel? How do I get it to you? The letter was abrupt, didn't tell me anything about what the novel was about, nothing about the author, and at first I thought it rude. After a second read, I realized it probably wasn't as much rude, as it was just simply from someone who didn't know a thing about writing a query. They might not have even known there is such a beast as a query letter. So instead of rejecting this author, based on the absurd way in which they asked for information, I directed them to our website. It didn't take long, however, for them to write back with an entire manuscript included as an attachment, and still no information within the body of the e-mail about the book or why I should want it. On this second letter, they didn't even bother to put their name. So I then wrote back and told them we were sorry, we were going to have to pass, and I wished them luck in finding publication elsewhere. I didn't have to read any of their manuscript. I knew from the total lack of knowledge this author showed in the entire process, that their writing probably lacked a knowledge of craft. Then the obvious struck me. Writing is a process. It's not enough to know where to put a comma. It's not enough to have a story and characters. And it's not enough to finish a novel. You also have to learn a little etiquette in order to get noticed.

We deal with dozens of queries per week, on average, 100 a month. E-mail is convenient, and we truly believe it's better than snail mail, so there isn't a problem there. The problem begins when an e-mail query is too abrupt, written poorly, or just plain shows that the writer doesn't know the rules. After all, it's like an introduction. If you were to walk up to me at a conference, the first thing you'd do, I hope, is introduce yourself. I'm sure you wouldn't just blurt out that you've finished a novel and want to know how to get it to me. Or God forbid, hand me a manuscript. Would you? Think of the query letter as your first meeting, without a handshake or a smile. Let us know right off the bat you appreciate our time, then introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your novel, and why you think it would sell. Then give a brief description of your writing credits. Thank us for our time, finish with your name, and hit send.

Don't expect an answer immediately, and when you don't get it, do not write again to ask for confirmation. I tell my friends that a rule of thumb with an inexperienced writer is 7 e-mails. They write, they write again, I answer, they write back, I answer back, they write again, I answer. That's 7. Think of it this way. If I spend an average of ten minutes reading and answering each of your e-mails, that's more than an hour on just one person. Multiply that by the two dozen people that contacted me that week and that's a great big bunch of time out of my work week. That's why I don't fall into the 7 e-mail trap. You write, we reply when we can and not before, so there is no use reminding us that you wrote two days before and didn't receive an answer.

If we answer and ask for three chapters, do not send the entire manuscript because you thought it would save time. Send only what we ask for. If we write back and let you know that we don't think your manuscript would be right for us, don't send off a rude and horrible letter telling anyone who'll listen that we don't know what we're talking about. We usually give a reason for a rejection. Take the reason we gave you, and go on. If at the end of this sometimes 3 or 4 month process, we find that we love your novel, someone will give you the long and windy phone call. Our business is small. We're certainly not doing it for the money, we do it because we love it. So part of our concern is that we not only love the story, we have to like the author well enough to want to work closely with them for the next year and a half to two years, which is how long the process usually is after we've accepted a manuscript.

We know this business is a hard one. It's not for the faint of heart, or the impatient. It's for people who love writing, and want to work hard at getting that writing to the public. Good luck with your writing, and now sit down and get a great query letter out to a publisher. We'd love to see your name on a best seller's list someday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Future of Books

This is not a wall in my house. I don't display my books with the spines hidden, but to take that picture I would have had to remove the ancient, green down recliner...and my husband. But it's an interesting picture of books, and leads into something that has been rattling around in my head recently. The future of books. 

Fifteen years ago I attended a St. Louis Writer's Guild meeting and a gentleman proudly showed us his new Rocket Reader. It weighed probably five pounds and he had a book downloaded on it. He sternly warned us that in five years paper bound books would be obsolete. Not while I'm alive, I thought. And basically, I was right. Books are not obsolete, they weren't ten years ago, they aren't now, and they won't be in the future. But with the growth of the e-book industry, they are certainly going to be reduced in numbers...maybe.

I feel as though small press publishers like our business may just be the savior of books. We love them. We surround ourselves with them, and probably everyone who has started a small press does it for their love of books and story. We don't get rich, we work sometimes 70 hours a week, and we often neglect our families.

So although electronic readers are everywhere, and our Kindle sales have grown, I'm still a collector and believer in books. Now, the picture below looks more like my shelves...and somewhere under the piles is that comfy recliner.