Tag Archives: Kim Kircher

The Inspiration of New Experience

It’s no secret that improvisational acting (improv) classes at The Upfront Theatre have improved my self-confidence significantly over the past three years, but I still have a way to go to keep insecurity from rearing its ugly head.

To become a successful author, we must be able to talk to anyone about our book, and not only talk, but sell it. Pacific Northwest author and friend Kim Kircher has blogged about her struggles with self-promotion during her recent book tour for her memoir, The Next 15 Minutes.

Experts propose a variety of suggestions on how we may overcome our fears, but most of them boil down to plugging our nose and jumping in with both feet. The simple act of surviving leads to a sense of accomplishment, which incrementally builds self-esteem and confidence. Getting on stage every week and writing this blog is me jumping in with both feet.

To further that effort, I opened my mind to other new experiences as well. Believe it or not, I recently worked as an extra in a rap music video. While that may not sound like a natural fit for a suburban mom and environmental scientist, the fact that it was outside my comfort zone was exactly what I needed.

Below is the video itself, Take My Pain Away by Conceit, directed by Darkheart Visions Production’s talented Domenic Barbero. Although not appropriate for children, the song is stuck in my head.

For most of the video shoot, I just focused on not screwing up, but I also drank in the new experience. What if I want to write fiction someday about a musician, or a video extra, or a film maker? This experience, one that none of my fellow 2nd grade moms would consider in a million years, was not only potential research for some future opus, but also a way for me to chase down my own insecurities with a baseball bat.

Articles I’ve read say that extra work is so small that it shouldn’t even appear on an acting resume. But I feel like shouting about this from the roof tops. “Hey everybody, I was scared to death to appear in a music video and I did it anyway!” The experience also brought other unexpected benefits. I met some very interesting, smart, confident, and (of course) beautiful people and learned a ton of tiny details about video production, acting, and especially fake blood (Thanks Langley West!).

This past weekend I also auditioned for the Upfront Theatre’s mainstage ensemble. Although I didn’t get a call back this time, I was proud of myself for having the courage to try. I stayed calm and positive during the audition process, and I wasn’t too hard on myself afterward. Shutting down my inner critic was a huge step for me. I came away from my audition with a clear list of what I need to do next time to really shine, and also gained a completely unique experience that most of my friends would never dream of attempting. Who knows, maybe this experience will appear in my next article, short story, play, or manuscript.

In this article (Thanks Sandi Pants!), The Office’s Jenna Fischer suggests working as an extra, or background artist, as one of the best ways to get started in the entertainment industry. Her random early experiences connected her to the people who years later cast her on The Office.

We can’t know with certainty what our future will hold, but the range of possibility is much smaller without the inspiration of fresh experience. So the next time the insecurity monster shows up at your house, consider grabbing him by the arm and dragging him into your new experience with you, head first.

Now This is How to Do a Book Tour

In this ever-changing world of publishing, with self-publishing, e-readers, and on-line purchasing rising astronomically, we also hear this: “How can an author tell if a book tour sells books?”

Despite Amazon ratings and on-line review scores, it’s very hard to tell how many books have actually been sold. One friend had read that a person must hear about a book three times before they buy it. Everything I read and hear says that an author doesn’t know how many books they’ve sold until the check arrives in the mail from their agent.

My friend Kim Kircher is in the middle of her first book tour, selling her memoir about how her life as a ski patroller, EMT, and explosives specialist helped her through her husband’s liver cancer and transplant, The Next Fifteen Minutes. Kim is wisely doing readings at ski resorts all over the country, with a few ski shops and other venues thrown in. Her recent blog post seems to be saying that she’s accepted the not knowing and is thankful to ski at each of the beautiful mountains to which she’s schlepping her books.

Another friend, Royce Buckingham, just returned from a reading of his Demonkeeper series of middle grade fantasy books in Napa, CA. I hope he soaked up a little extra sun for all of us pasty Pacific Northwesters.

So while the verdict is still out about whether book tours still sell books, my friends are making the most of it by going to places they enjoy and sharing their love for the written word with whomever is there to listen.

Please check out their books and tell anyone you know that might be interested. Maybe book tours do sell books, just not in the direct way we were thinking.

Are you an Introvert?

As you may remember, Kim Kircher and I presented a workshop last summer that included a section called, Care and Feeding of Your Inner Introvert. We included suggestions like giving yourself quiet time to refresh before and after social events, staying rested, and approaching social events in small doses.

My friend Dorthe sent me this interesting article in The Atlantic called Caring for your Introvert. I like that it attempts to clear up several misunderstandings about what traits are and are not included in the stereotype.

For further reading, please check out Nancy Ancowitz book, Self-Promotion for Introverts. Your introvert will thank you!

“The Next 15 Minutes” is Almost Here!

As you know, I love to blog about other writers and their journey toward publication.

A good friend of mine from Seattle, Kim Kircher, has an exciting memoir coming out Oct. 1, called The Next 15 Minutes (Behler Publications). I’ve enjoyed living vicariously through her writing success and am so excited to see this book on the shelves and glowing back at me on my friend’s Kindles.

Kim is an EMT, Ski Patroller, and Avalanche Control Technician (the person who actually carries the bombs around) at Crystal Mountain. She writes about how she was able to use her work experience to survive her husband’s liver cancer and subsequent transplant. Her husband John, now thankfully about four years post-transplant, is well-known in the ski industry. His family opened and still operates many ski areas across the country, including Crystal and Boyne Mountain in my home state of Michigan. Kim also happens to be diabetic and trains avalanche dogs in her spare time (for all my dog loving friends). She’s a truly amazing person.

I’ve been following Kim’s blog that covers everything from ski bumming, weather, and travel to family, relationships, and writing since it began. I usually come away feeling inspired and educated, no matter what the topic.

I can’t wait for January when my book club will be discussing her memoir. Kim has graciously offered to attend or Skype with us!

I was also grateful to have Kim by my side when we presented our workshop this summer at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference. 

If you want to be inspired by personal strength and heroism, or you’re just excited by an insider’s view of the international ski world, check out her blog and book. The memoir will be in stores Oct. 1, but you can get a ~$5 discount by pre-ordering now on Amazon

Please tell all your ski friends, anyone struggling with a cancer diagnosis in their family, or anyone drawn to real-life adventure because they will find it all here.

And most importantly, let me know what you think!

New Headshots

Because we had to turn in headshots as presenters of a workshop (which went great, BTW) at the PNWA Conference booklet, I made sure to credit my BEST friend “A. Christine Furman.” I’ve used Chris’ excellent photo since about 2004, but I decided it was time to have a new one since I was a little thicker and seasoned since then.

I needed something with more pixels. Christina Katz recommended Mark Bennington on her blog and facebook. I was reluctant because I had my eye on a photographer in my own backyard, but at the last minute had this urge to just do it, so I did. It took about eight minutes and a very reasonable fee and it was worth every cent.

The photos are big not because I’m completely full of myself, but because Bennington is a master with a camera!

I’m one of millions of women who never like photos of themselves, or almost never. Except that one in high school that I keep in a drawer to remind me of how good I looked and didn’t even know or appreciate it (which is probably the same thing I’ll say again in twenty years when I’m grey and leather-faced).

Mark’s an amazingly talented man (xoxo to you Mark!) if he can make me look this good after two nights of only four hours sleep and eating only bagels (that’s what they served at the conference and I was too busy to buy food).

I had an amazing time hanging out with my writing buddy and fellow workshop presenter, Kim Kircher, and spent some quality time with a couple agents and editors that are also very kind and interesting human beings.

 Yup, Friday, August 5th was a pretty awesome day for me. Great new headshots, two pitches who said yes they want pages, and getting to know some really wonderful people a whole lot better all in one day. Hooooeeeeeee, that’s a good day.

To the Conference I Will Go!

I’m frantically packing for my third trip to the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference, this year in Bellevue, WA. While I’m there I won’t have a minute to rest.

On Thursday evening, I’ll be presenting a workshop with the incredible Kim Kircher, author of the forthcoming memoir, The Next Fifteen Minutes (Behler Publications, Oct. 2011). Our workshop, Promoting Your Book When You’re an Introvert, focuses on helping introverted writers get over their fear of public speaking and gives them several on-line resources so they’ll be ready to pitch their book idea to an agent or promote their published book. I’m looking forward to the improv games we’ll play as part of the workshop. Please stop by if you’ll be at the conference.

On Friday and Saturday I’ll attend workshops, get new headshot photos, pitch Egg Mama to agents, moderate a couple sessions, and volunteer at the Agent Appointments and Book Doctor table. Whew, I guess I’ll get my money’s worth!

After that, I’ll need a week of naps. I hope your writing summer is as productive as you’d like (and maybe less busy).

End of Round Two

Well, I’m a bit disappointed, although I knew it was probably coming. I received a rejection (which agents and editors sometimes call a pass) yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad they actually reply with one or two sentences of feedback, but it’s hard to accept the finality of it.

Yesterday I “was passed over” by Kit Ward of Christina Ward Literary Agency. Kit was one of ten agents and editors I submitted my book proposal to of those I met this summer at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association meeting. She was the last of the bunch to reply. One success of round two over round one is that everyone in round two actually replied. Not so in round one.

I had the pleasure of actually getting to know Kit a little at the meeting. That hardly ever happens, so I was really hoping she’d identify with my work and be excited about having me.

Turns out though, that from that meeting, Kit discovered my wonderful writing friend, Kim Kircher, and Kit has been helping Kim through her book deal for The Next Fifteen Minutes. Kim’s book chronicles how her job as a ski patroller and avalanche expert helped her through her husband’s battle with liver cancer. I’m so excited to read it when it comes out next year. I’ll be following Kim’s journey vicariously and hope you will too through her blog (on my blog roll to the right).

I was first drawn to Kit when I discovered that she also represents author, Karen Fisher, who wrote the novel, A Sudden Country, which my book club read and loved last year. Karen also happens to live in the Pacific Northwest.

So it is sad for me to see this potential opportunity go by. I try not to get my hopes up, but it’s hard not to when you meet people you could actually picture yourself working with.

I’m so very happy for both Kim and Kit, and their publisher, Lynn Price of Behler Publications.

When I look back over the feedback I’ve received from agents and editors during round two, it seems clearer that the voice or content of my sample chapters are where I should focus my future efforts. I feel great to have written 90% of my manuscript now, which is 60% more than I had in October. I’m going to spend however long it takes to polish it before heading into round three. I don’t know how many rounds I have in me, but those who know me would probably say I have excellent stamina. My persistence is what makes my hubby love and hate me at the same time!

But I’m going to make sure to take the advice I’ve heard in many places and try not to rush it. I’ve read and personally know authors who have submitted to and been rejected by more than fifty agents before landing their book deal. I’m only at around eighteen.

I am currently working with a critique group and plan to enter my first writing contest in the new year. When I feel like my manuscript and proposal are significantly improved, head back into the ring for another beating. I’ll be sure to put in my mouth guard and cup.

Here’s the actual gracious e-mail I got from Kit for your voyeuristic reading pleasure:

Dear Lorraine,

A thousand pardons for this tardy response to your proposal for EGG MAMA, which I asked to see at the PNWA conference.  Your story is an extraordinary and touching one, there’s no doubt about that.  But the reading experience here hasn’t compelled me as the idea did originally, I’m afraid.  Given my reservations, I’m going to pass, with regret.  But I hope another reader will see the opportunity here.  (Perhaps you’ve gone ahead without me in any case.)

 It was lovely to meet you at the conference.  I hope our paths will cross again sometime.

 Best,

Kit

Christina Ward