For as long as I can remember I’ve been a voracious reader. I memorized the route of the neighborhood bookmobile, I always checked out the maximum number of titles at the school library, and I suspect that if a Beast had given me access to a ginormous collection of books in his castle, I’d have had no reason to ever leave. My allowance was regularly spent on the latest Nancy Drew mysteries (which I read with zeal and via penlight under the covers long after it was past my bedtime).
Even as an adult, I probably have enough books to open a lovely bookstore, although I’m sure I’d develop a modicum of angst about parting with some of my favorites and sending them out the door with a total stranger.
In the 30+ years of my own career as a professional writer, I’ve always been intrigued by what inspires my fellow authors, who their mentors were, how they organize their work day, what they’re passionate about, and what they’re currently reading. Thus was born the idea of launching “You Read It Here First” – a gathering place for those who love to write and those who love to read.
If you’re an author who’d like to chat about your latest title as well as share insider tips for those who are just beginning their own journeys in fiction (any genre), nonfiction, playwriting, or screenwriting, drop me an email (email@example.com) and let’s get the conversation started.
Meet the Staff: Who We Are and Why We’re Here
Christina Hamlett, Founder and Literary Manager
Award-winning author, script consultant, and professional ghostwriter Christina Hamlett has been involved with writing, publishing and the performing arts for over 40 years, an amazing accomplishment in light of the fact that she insists she is only 35.
Her credits to date include 39 books, 167 stage plays, 5 optioned feature films, and squillions of articles and interviews that appear in trade publications throughout the world. Not only is she frequently tapped to judge national and international competitions in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, playwriting and screenwriting, but – as a script consultant for the film industry – she attempts to stop really bad movies from coming to theaters near you. (Obviously she needs to be working much harder at this…)
Next to her husband, Mark Webb, and their dog, Lucy, her true love is the theater. She spent 16 years acting and directing, half of which was with her own touring theater company, The Hamlett Players. Many people mistakenly assumed that the group (1) only did Shakespeare, (2) only performed The Bard’s play about the guy with the skull or (3) thought the extra “t” was a typo. None of these assumptions were correct. Christina penned nearly all of the plays performed and, in fact, discovered that it was a nifty way to get feedback from the cast and from audiences prior to submitting them for publication.
If you read the third paragraph (and there will be a test on this later), you’ll see that she is still writing plays, the majority of these being scripts for the high school market and which, since the 1980’s, have been published by PLAYS (http://www.playsmagazine.com/), Pioneer Drama Service (https://www.pioneerdrama.com/), Heartland Plays (http://heartlandplays.com/) and Brooklyn Publishers (https://www.brookpub.com/). She is also a monthly contributor of scintillating lesson plans to School Video News (http://www.schoolvideonews.com/Authors/Christina-Hamlett/), an online resource targeted to K-12 video arts educators.
Rather than rabbit on incessantly, she invites you to visit her website at http://www.authorhamlett.com. There you will not only find information on her publications but also details about her online workshops, consulting and ghostwriting services.
Sophie Lin, Literary Associate
Sophie Lin has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She would read everywhere she went, whether it was in the car, late at night, or even walking up the stairs (which led to some minor injuries). Around fourth grade, when her teacher started holding monthly writing competitions for her class, Sophie discovered her love for writing.
Through writing, she found a world of limitless possibilities that she could get lost in. A few writing courses in various programs later, Sophie found herself writing stories on Wattpad, which she spent about two years on before high school came knocking to shove a new campus, new friends, and APs into her life. Now, she’s trying to reawaken her old passion for writing, and has started out by writing articles for the La Cañada Flintridge Neighbors magazine.
In her free time, Sophie can usually be found reading, singing, writing, building robots, hanging out with friends, or going to the gym. She lives in La Cañada with her family and huggable maltipoo, Skippy.
Debbie McClure, Literary Associate
Debbie McClure wrote her first short story back around the age of twelve, and although she loved the experience, realized even then that writing took a lot of hard work and dedication! Although she continued to harbour the dream of becoming a writer, as with most of us, life got in the way of the dream. First there was marriage to a high school sweetheart that resulted in two fabulous children and a divorce eleven years later, then many years working as a single mother with no child support from an absent father. When she met her second, current husband fifteen years ago, Debbie’s life took yet another turn, as she welcomed three teenaged step-children into her life, in addition to her own then teenaged children. Yep, five teenagers in one household! Those were intense years of blending a new love and family into one cohesive unit, and through it all she worked as a full time real estate and mortgage agent.
As she approached her fiftieth birthday, Debbie began to realize that something was missing from her life, and so finally returned to her first passion; writing. Overcoming the fear of failure and insecurities of starting something so grand so late in life was a challenge. With nothing more than an intense love of reading and writing, and a grade ten education, Debbie wrote two full length novels before scoring her first publishing deal and releasing her debut novel in November, 2012, a paranormal romance/murder mystery, In The Spirit Of Love. In June, 2014, the sequel, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness was released. Finally Debbie quit her job in commissioned sales to pursue writing full time. Now, almost five years after beginning her writing career, Debbie has written a third up-coming novel in the bio-historical fiction genre.
In addition to writing, Debbie has discovered a love of public speaking and teaching creative writing workshops. These two new ventures allow her to connect with avid readers who want to know how books are written, and assist beginning writers who are seeking guidance and inspiration for their own writing projects. She also often speaks of overcoming the fear of failure and getting past the road blocks that often stop us on our way to discovering who we are and what we want to accomplish in life. Debbie is thrilled to be Literary Associate here at You Read It Here First, and approaches author interviews with a sincere desire to learn more about what drives the creative mind, the thing that makes writers tick, and the often remarkable journeys that lead writers along their chosen path.
You can find Debbie on Twitter, Facebook, her blog, website at www.damcclure.net, and welcomes direct emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. She lives in a quiet beach resort town along Lake Huron’s shores in Southwestern Ontario, Canada with her husband, which is ideal for the kind of laid-back, relaxed lifestyle she enjoys most.
Christy Campbell, Literary Associate
Christy began a love of writing as early as sixth grade when she won second place in a short story contest at her school. Suddenly, she was always writing – whether it was in class (when she shouldn’t have been), at home (in a diary), and anywhere (really!). Poetry became a huge hobby as well. Christy got to high school where her Creative Writing teacher used one of her stories as an example to the class and urged her to pursue being a professional author. When she got to college, she dabbled a bit and writing papers was a breeze, including fifteen page ones! Eventually, marriage, a day job and children pushed the dream aside for a long time. But the desire resurfaced last year for her during a period of unemployment, and The Sharing Moon – her debut YA novel – was born.
Christy loves to write and read, obsessively she might add. The young adult genre has always been a favorite so she finds it not only quite fun and very easy to relate to but also intriguing and insightful. A graduate of Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family Life Education, she’s still searching for that day job but, in the meantime, she’s working on the sequel to The Sharing Moon and keeping up with her busy family. As the newest literary associate to join You Read It Here First, she looks forward to reading and reviewing all kinds of fiction but young adult, mysteries, and complicated romance books are her personal favorites. You can find Christy on Goodreads, Twitter and Facebook under The Sharing Moon. Follow her blog at christycampbell12873.wordpress.com. She can also be reached by reached by email at email@example.com.
Joanna Celeste, Literary Associate
Joanna Celeste (a.k.a. Joanna Cook) set up her first interview as a teenage reporter for The Friday Flyer, as part of her three-part series on the pros and cons of attending private school, public school, or studying at home. She came up with questions and surveyed various students for her “Teen Talk” weekly column.
Now, more than thirteen years later, Joanna has rediscovered her love of journalism: interviewing authors as part of the WOW! (Women on Writing) Blog Tours, or for her NAWR (National Association of Women on the Rise) group, “Author and Character Interviews”. Her author and character interviews have been published on Blogcritics.com, E & K Family Book Review, and on her Blog (notionsofagirl.wordpress.com).
Joanna is an official reviewer for Blogcritics, TRR (TheRomanceReviews.com), E & K Family Book Review, and a member of Netgalley. Her book reviews have been published on Blogcritics.com, E & K Family Book Review, TRR, SPAWNews, and The Dark Phantom.
In between her journalistic endeavors as a teenager and now, Joanna pursued her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, publishing her short stories, poems and articles in various magazines, e-newsletters, anthologies, newspapers and trade newsletters. She has had the good fortune to have been mentored by professional authors through private mentorships, workshops and correspondence courses with The Long Ridge Writers Group. In turn, she enjoys assisting new authors as they learn the ropes.
Joanna is honored to join You Read It Here First as a Literary Associate. Joanna enjoys finding those books that impart that unique kinship, joy or hope, which first sparked a love for writing; the power of reaching out to others she had never even met.
On the side, Joanna enjoys illustrating, cooking, and singing. She lives in Southern California with her family and dog, Rosie. Visit her website at http://www.joannaceleste.com.
Is Your Book Ready For Its Close-Up?
Have you just written a book? If so, congratulations are in order. By staying the course and having the passion and perseverance to bring your characters and concepts to life, you’re already leagues ahead of the thousands of wannabe writers out there who have yet to pen their opening sentences.
So what do you do now?
In a perfect world, you could kick back, let your publisher do all of the shout-outs, and blissfully watch buyers beat a hasty path to the nearest bookstore. Not surprisingly, many of the aspiring authors I’ve met over the years believe that this is exactly the way it all works.
Alas, but the process is not that simple, especially in the 21st century. Like any other industry, publishing houses have all been hard hit by a downward spiraling American economy that is likely to get much worse before it shows even a faint glimmer of getting better. What this means to authors is that they are now required to take on a lion’s share of promotion for their own titles. Many publishers, in fact, are reluctant to even offer a contract to new talent unless there is demonstration of a strong marketing platform and a gaggle of ready-made fans who are eager to open their wallets.
Perhaps the most daunting component of all of this horn-tooting is the challenge of working effectively with members of the media. Being able to attract a journalist’s attention – as well as perform flawlessly in any type of interview scenario – often makes the difference in how many prospective readers you’ll be able to reach and whether the media outlet invites you back.
If you’re new to the world of public relations, marketing and advertising, my recommendation is a visit to www.mediamagnetism.org, the companion website to Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve. Available in paperback and on Kindle, this new release is targeted to authors, artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits – in short, anyone who wants a better understanding of what it takes to be a media darling and stand out from the competition.
Two dozen industry experts (myself included) offer insider tips and advice on everything from photos ops and DIY ads to surviving awkward moments and running an effective media campaign on a shoestring budget. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a master class on Media 101 …without even having to leave your house.
One-on-one consultations are also available for individuals who want to learn:
How to attract media opportunities without spending any money.
How to be interesting (and more effective) as an interviewee.
How to put together an author press kit.
For fee information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.