GRAPHIC NOVELS: Writer’s Tools to Entertain and Educate

By: Kathleen Pickering  http://www.kathleenpickering.com

Author Plug: Want to put your finger on the pulse of the writing world? Attend writing conferences. The latest? Graphic Novels.

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While at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago last month, I attended a workshop on Graphic Novels with notable panelists such as Gregg Hurwitz, Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson and Jade Lee. Romance author and graphic novelist, Anne Elizabeth, moderated the panel. Quite a line-up of professionals to talk about something as juvenile as comic books, wouldn’t you say?

Let me tell you, the Crash! Boom! Blam! about graphic novels and the impact they are having on the industry opened my eyes faster than a speeding bullet.

Snooping around the Internet, I discovered that as far back as 2005, librarians have espoused the benefits of graphic novels as educational tools in schools and libraries.

In an article written by Leslie Bussert, an ethics/humanities librarian at the University of Washington, Bussert stated, “Comic books and graphic novels are becoming two of the most pervasive and influential media forms of popular culture. Placed within the context of changing society, comic books and graphic novels entertain and educate, but they have also been instrumental in documenting and interpreting social, historical, and current events.”

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Comics and graphic novels are proving to be great tools for students to analyze character development, dialogue and language structures. Combine these with visual elements and readers are presented with a multi-variable art form that stimulates the imagination more than just the written word.

Granted, some graphic novels may be too graphic for some folks to digest. Lots of concerned parents feel this way. The issue against graphic novels has been so strong that the American Library Association distributed materials to librarians on how to defend graphic novels in public libraries. Just like going to the movies, parents must take an active role in their children’s entertainment consumption. Concern like this shows how powerful comics and graphic novels are in reaching their readers.

From an author standpoint, writing graphic novels is like screenwriting on steroids. Where a screenwriter must distill the salient points of his story to about 95 pages, a graphic novelist must reduce his story to snippets and still keep the plot powerful with artwork that will say more than words, all within perhaps 30 pages, or less. 

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The panelists at the RT workshop provided wonderful insights to this genre. Two points that I found fascinating were that, one, they found working with graphic artists in creating their stories an incredible inspiration during the creation process. And, two, they insisted that not only was creating graphic novels a whole lot of fun, the genre is becoming an excellent and profitable spin-off for novel writing.

Our culture is devouring graphic media, as evident not only in comics and graphic novels, but on the silver screen. The Batman, Spiderman, Superman series have been crowding movie theaters for years. Now, with the Avengers series focusing on all the Super heroes, comics-gone-movies are block busters.

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I heard that in comparing first sales, The Avengers outsold Harry Potter in the opening weekend. That says much about the allure of comics and graphic novels.

The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer has gone graphic novel. Classical greats, such as Shakespeare and Jane Austen’s, Sense and Sensibility, can now be found as graphic novels.

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 sense and sensibility

Are graphic novels another venue for the writer to consider? Absolutely. I can see turning my Mythological Sam series into graphic media down the road. Actually, since attending this workshop, graphic media has become another benchmark for my publishing plan. I wouldn’t have thought of it had I not attended this workshop.

How about you? Do you like graphic media? Do you see graphic novels as a part of your writing future?

xox, Piks

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The Unseen

by Jordan Dane

I am writing the final chapter of my latest project. INDIGO AWAKENING is Book #1 in THE HUNTED series for Harlequin Teen (Fall 2012). I love and hate finishing a book. There is such joy in making the final revision. It’s a real sense of accomplishment that launches me into a euphoric state that lingers. I also tend to procrastinate finishing because I never want to let the world and the characters go. The beauty of this project is that I get to keep the fires burning with a series.

To celebrate, I like to do something special to mark the occasion. As luck would have it, I’ve found the perfect thing. New York Times Bestselling author, Heather Graham, will be in San Antonio on Monday, April 2, at 7PM at the B&N LaCantera to sign her book THE UNSEEN. I made a date with my husband to have a nice dinner too. (Writing a book is taxing for a spouse too.)

THE UNSEEN is set in San Antonio. That alone is enough to give me goose bumps. Heather graciously blurbed my debut book – NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM – before I had my first book on the shelf. I will never forget her kindness. An author of her caliber, I didn’t know what to expect. As an author, I’m always prepared for rejection, but her generosity blew me away.

Here is a summary of the plot for THE UNSEEN (Mira, Mar 27, 2012)

1800s. San Antonio, Texas: In room 207 at the Longhorn Saloon, in the long shadow of the Alamo itself, a woman renowned for her beauty was brutally murdered. Her killer was never found.
 

One year ago: In that same historic room, another woman vanished without a trace. Her blood was everywhere…but her body was never recovered.

Now: In the last month, San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies.

All young women, many of them long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now.

Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city’s most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead.

Among Logan’s new team is Kelsey O’Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to “see” the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance.

Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why.

And if something more earthly is menacing the city’s oldest, darkest corners, only they can stop it—before more innocent women join the company of San Antonio’s restless ghosts….

“Graham deftly weaves elements of mystery, the paranormal, and romance into a tight plot that will keep the reader guessing at the true nature of the killer’s evil.”

—Publishers Weekly review on THE UNSEEN

I love stories set in San Antonio, my hometown. My debut book was set in SA and I saw the city with fresh eyes to tell that story. The creepy underpinnings of the paranormal is an added bonus, especially when written by such a gifted author. So my treat to finishing my book is Heather Graham and THE UNSEEN.

What about you, my TKZ family? Do you do anything special to celebrate the accomplishment of finishing a book? What is the wildest thing you ever did or would like to do for your next one?

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ON-SITE RESEARCH: Author/Dolphin Encounters? Oh, Yeah!

By Kathleen Pickering  http://www.kathleenpickering.com

My job rocks!

My dear friend, Heather Graham, won this amazing Dream Date with Dolphins from a fund raiser at the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon Florida. Guess who she invited? 

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Yes, indeed. Yours truly. (This photo is dubbed: The Board Meeting)

Heather and I spent the entire day with trainer, Linda, and DRC director, Mandy, who took us through their daily routine with the the dolphins. OMG! You just know that an amazing experience such as this, as well as watching Heather transform into the proverbial Mermaid while swimming with these charming creatures, could turn into nothing less than on-site research.

You see, Heather has invited me to join her, and authors Beth Ciotta and Deborah LeBlanc to write a Christmas anthology slated for 2013. The characters will be in line with her Keepers series. That said, my search for a “Keeper” character who will transform from animal to human was easily found at the Dolphin Research Center.

005_5Between the dolphins, sea lions, peacocks, exotic birds and other aquatic life surrounding the compound, you know that I discovered my character for the Keepers anthology.048_48

But, I’m not telling. Not yet, anyway.

I really don’t have a question to ask you folks today, but would welcome your comments. If you’d like to talk about how lucky I am at my job, well, feel free. I heard Steve Job’s Stanford University speech back when he originally made it in 2009. When I heard him thumbnail[3]

then, I punched the air saying, “You’re so right, Steve!”  Up until around 2005, I had been sidetracked, and letting “stuff” get in the way of my dreams. But no longer. It’s amazing how, when you decide to live true, you world unfolds in ways you’d never expect. Hence, a dream date with a dear friend at the DRC, and what do I get? The character for my next book. Not too shabby, eh?

So, let me leave you with this last link to a day made in heaven. If you have ten minutes, you may enjoy viewing Heather’s and my first ten minutes of our dream date morning at DRC.  Click Here:

http://kathleenpickering.com/Dolphin_Videos.html

Yeah, we’re hooked.

Oh, and if you’d like to read an in-depth discussion of our fun day, visit Heather’s blog: http://thelipstickchronicles.typepad.com/the_lipstick_chronicles/2011/10/dream-date.html

Happy writing, one and all!

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Author Mentoring: The Art of Paying It Forward

By: Kathleen Pickering


I spent most of this past week at The Myrtles, a haunted plantation in Louisiana, with my mentor, the award winning, New York Times Best Selling author, Heather Graham. Luckily for me, Heather is not only my mentor, but my dear friend. (I don’t even know if she knows she’s mentoring me!)

I accompanied Heather and her family “on location” to shoot the new book trailer for her upcoming “Krewe of Hunters” series with Mira Books. As my mentor, Heather showed me how to set up a script, find a location, hire a videographer and assemble a cast of actors (with costumes) and work within a budget to accomplish in one afternoon what promises to be an exciting and entertaining introduction to her next book series.


Heather Graham on location at The Myrtles, St. Francisville, LA

I enjoyed all of this instruction while having fun. I came away realizing that while mentoring doesn’t always lead to friendship, friendship surely leads to mentoring. Mentoring is an important facet of any role in life, not just writing. Many corporate mentoring programs involve software such as the TogetherApp, an employeee mentoring software that tracks the progress between the mentor and the mentee(s). In writing, mentoring is an organic essence of a writing community. Joining Florida Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers and Thriller Writers has immersed me in conversations with other authors from which I have come away a better writer—just by sharing information. Many times, I’m lucky to make friends with some of my most favorite authors. In turn, when I meet new writers, I answer their questions, offer them help with works in progress, or point them in whatever direction I can to help further their career.
Mentoring is an author’s way to “pay it forward” or in other words, to do good for someone in advance of good happening for you. When we pay it forward, we take mega-leaps in our own careers, as well. Heather showed me how she uses her skills and years of experience to create media content. In turn, I followed the cast around the plantation, videoing behind the scenes. (With equipment I bought through more mentoring from Fred Rae, a member of Mystery Writers.) To thank Heather for the fun—and the lessons, I plan to create up to 20 (depending on the quality of my photography!) short “behind the scenes” videos for YouTube, Facebook and iTunes to help herald Heather’s upcoming series. (I’ll be sure to post them on my website, as well.)
Why? Because I am delighted to “pay it forward” for my friend—and not just because she’s teaching me. It feels good inside to know I’m building my career on good intentions. Helping create an Internet buzz for Heather works in symbiosis with my learning how to create media. It’s all good. After all, in the author’s world of mentoring, what are friends for?
So, let me ask you. How do you contribute as a mentor in your writing world?
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