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Janet Evanovich Rocks!

I met Janet Evanovich at her book signing in Michigan and she is a one terrific lady! I’m a HUGE fan.  How HUGE? Well, recently, I helped plan a fan party at our local library in her honor and then went in costume to her book signing and helped the book store entertain the long lines.  It happened something like this:

My friend wanted to throw a “little” dinner party with all the favorites from the books (mashed potatoes, meatloaf, pineapple upside cake)  complete with character costumes. Picture someone dressed as Lula or Vinnie!!  What a hoot!! Then – I don’t know what came over me but I thought — why not make this a community event? I contacted the local library and it snowballed from there.

Each day we came up with more fun ideas and it was like planning a wedding! Food had to be DONUTS (all Stephanie Plum series readers would get this) and of course I figured I’d ask local businesses to sponsor this.  At first it was just the donuts — Dunkin Donuts and Tim Hortons were super generous! Then the library provided coffee and gift cards for the used book store.

Hmmm….why not promote local businesses and help the economy while we’re at it? The responses were mostly positive! We had gift cards that related to the stories:  Lula loves her chicken — so KFC donated gift cards! cars blow up in every book — Lighthouse Car Wash donated GCs! Food is a central theme in all the books so we had GCs from Wendy’s, Holiday Market, Leo’s Coney Island and Big Boy too.  Big hair in New Jersey? Salon Anew GC! Rex the hamster and Bob the dog? Pet Supplies Plus GC!  It was amazing!  Even the Janet Evanovich website sent us tons of goodies to give out!  (Thanks Alex!!)

The library wrote up a little blurb about the event in their newsletter (we just barely made the deadline) and their website (alright!) and our local paper wrote about it too! (AWESOME!)

In the meantime, my friend created most of the trivia questions and I typed them up and put them in balloons!! (okay that was much later…) The only way to get the questions is to have fans sit on the balloons and POP — like the cars that blow up in the books! Okay…more on that later…We came up with an ice breaker type game and little details and whammo – we had our games and activities!

Food? Check! Gifts? Check! Press? Check! Games and activities? Check! Costumes?….wait, what? I have to wear a costume? 🙂

I decided on the Stephanie Plum character because she’s one of my favorites — and, okay, so that one’s pretty easy without looking ridiculous! 🙂

By the way, my friend and I work in a school and the fan party was on the Saturday after school started!! Talk about a busy week!!!

Okay – now – my friend decides she still wants to have the dinner at her house after our fan party at the library and actually cooked a fabulous meal! She made mouth-watering meatloaf, chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls!! To top it all off, we had upside down pineapple cake AND double chocolate cake!! I could hardly move the whole night!! (Think: Thanksgiving).  The characters in the books eat like this all the time — good thing they’re fictional — too much of a good thing.  (And of course, we had wine, but that’s another story).

The morning of the event was filled with runs to the donut shops and bakery but the best part was loading my car!! Remember all those balloons with the questions tucked inside them for the game? I thought I was smart by putting them in four huge black garbage bags and putting them in my garage as I loaded up my SUV.  I was standing in the back of my car watching my hubby put the seats down to make room and per chance, I glanced up — only three garbage bags are in my garage.  One of the bags blew away onto the neighbor’s yard — complete with balloons inside – AND two of the balloons escaped from the bag! I made a mad dash after the bag and the run-away balloons!  Did I mention how windy it was? Oh for pete’s sake!

The event was a blast! The fans were terrific and we all shared our favorite LOL parts of the Stephanie Plum series.  The games and activities were fun and thanks to our generous sponsors, the gifts were great too!! (Big Boy even made a special appearance!) Oh yeah, and did I mention the DONUTS!!

YUM!

The book signing was a total hoot! My friend arranged for us to provide the entertainment while people wait in the long lines.  I was happy to do it and didn’t even mind wearing my costume — it’s like Janet Evanovich fans all “understand” each other — we love her books, the humor and the men in the stories!! So many women told us they LOVED Ranger!! I asked trivia questions and the best reaction was when I asked what was Lula’s previous profession — the answer was always “She was a HO!” complete with attitude and all! People were so funny – my smile was still plastered on when I left the store a few hours later…

I’d read so many things about the author previously that I felt I already knew her when it was finally my turn to meet her. She was all smiles and friendly (and probably a little surprised at my costume). Besides devouring all her Stephanie Plum series books, I’d read her “How I Write” book and found her to be very down to earth and refreshing as a person and writer.  What a classy lady!

Pictures by Jennifer Wilmarth.  I’ll post more pictures  soon!

~~Maggie

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Posted by on September 21, 2010 in Funny, Games, Writing

 

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Writing wisdom

Here are ten “pearls of wisdom” I’ve picked up in the last couple of years:

*Write what you know and research what you don’t; in other words – try to be as authentic as you can in order to be believable – whether you’re writing fiction or not – it turns off a reader when something doesn’t ring true;

*When quoting someone for a newspaper piece, wait for the right quote! People are amazing and no matter what age, when they are excited to share something that’s important to them, they say beautiful things – I found this was the case for every single article I’ve published; sometimes the best quotes come after the person relaxes and shares something, almost like an afterthought;

*Use a recording device for interviews – not only because of the obvious, getting the quote right – but it also helps to listen to it later and hear the excitement in the person’s voice and the event;

*Don’t give up – submit! so far, I’ve published everything I’ve submitted – even my Thanksgiving poem –  (except for my ms, which I only started submitting recently);  I became a freelance journalist ONLY because I submitted stories to the local paper and someone (awesome Editor that he is) liked what he saw and gave me a chance; it comes down to what the author, Janet Evanovich, says in her book “How I Write” — you’re not going to get published if you keep it to yourself – you have to submit!

*Listen to conversations around you – people say the most hilarious things in the most mundane places, like the grocery store and the oil change/tire store, etc.

*Don’t let the publishing industry dampen your spirits — they are human — really — and they are making business decisions — it’s not personal! Even if my ms doesn’t get taken up by a publishing house, I will still write my next ms — it’s completely based on the market and the bottom line and I get that;

*Reading the ms out loud is a must — especially to hear if the words come out smoothly, naturally or trip you up;

*Writing is a work of art! Before I realized this, I used to be so careful about my grammar, etc. and then I’d see a best-selling novel and find “errors” — or what I perceived as errors — like starting a sentence with “And”  or having a sentence without a verb, etc.  When writing prose — those rules are not so set in stone and it depends on the dialog or the flow. Perhaps the writer wants it to sound hurried. So she uses short words. Or the writer wants to keep it going and going and on and on because she wants to make a point of how long it really is…Just. Like. That.

*Avoid cliches! They’re just overdone and it makes for a boring piece. I love reading new ones – especially similes and metaphors that make me laugh;

*Exchange your ms with writing buddies who will give you the good, the bad and the ugly. (thank you Michele and Nancy!) Not only are they helping you with your ms, but when you help them with theirs, you also learn a lot too.

Happy writing!

~~Maggie

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2010 in Writing

 

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