Bookapalooza Book Fair

Bookapalooza Book Fair

It’s been a week since this Durham book fair. Standing behind my table all day, my only regret is missing some of the readings. The organizers at WCDR encouraged us to take time before doors to the Bookapalooza book fair opened to the public so we could visit other vendors. I also took time out during the day to buy autographed books by WCDR members, and to join the Toronto branch of Sisters in Crime. I felt like it was a successful day, despite my having nothing for sale.

 Giving Away Free Books is Part of the Fun.

Maaja Wentz, posing with free book prizes for the Bookapalooza book fair
Posing with prizes for the Bookapalooza book fair in Durham Region. This book fair, run by the WCDR is an annual fair for book lovers with sales and readings.

Many people visited the Feeding Frenzy booth and turned the spinning wheel to win free paperbacks, or free ebooks of Feeding Frenzy to be delivered once it is released. The wheel drew a lot of interest, as did the treasure hunt card implemented by Heather O’Conner. To fill the card and be eligible to win a basket of books, visitors had to visit booths, collecting signatures from the vendors. If I return next year to sell Feeding Frenzy in paperback, I’ll be sure to run another spinning wheel game because people really seemed to enjoy it. Better yet, I can only hope to be placed next to Heather again. Her upbeat manner made for a fun day.

 

Giving Away Free Books at the Book Fair

I’m not going to release the names of winners without their permission but here are some stats from my spinning wheel experiment:

  • 15 people specifically signed up for the Loon Lake Readers’ Club
  • 22 in total gave their email addresses (some in order to receive their free ebook without checking either yes or no in the Readers’ Club opt-in box.)
  • 11 people won the ebook version of Feeding Frenzy
  • Mostly women stopped at my booth and only women spun the wheel, which fits perfectly with the majority of my readers on Wattpad
  • Everyone who didn’t win a prize was given a ‘quick access card,’ with a Q-code and a short URL for the free, Wattpad version of Feeding Frenzy
Maaja Wentz gives away free book prizes at Bookapalooza book fair.
Feeding Frenzy previews at Bookapalooza. Maaja Wentz standing in her vendor’s booth at Bookapalooza book fair, run by the WCDR.

 

Reading at the Bookapalooza Book Fair

In addition to the booth, I was also granted a space during the readings. This was an interesting opportunity by itself as reading to a live audience is a great way to see if your chapter is working. An interested audience is a still audience and I am happy to report that listeners seemed very attentive during my chapter. One of my friends, David Talon, turned up to hear the readings, sporting a fabulous ‘Movember’ moustache. What a lovely surprise!

Cthulhu spotted at Bookapalooza!
Cthulhu spotted at Bookapalooza!
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Readers visit Bookapalooza book fair

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Free Book Giveaway

Visit Bookaplaooza Book Fair & Readings:

Saturday Nov. 21, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Durham College,  Centre for Food/ Bistro 67, 1604 Champlain Ave., Whitby.

Book Fair & Readings
Book Fair & Readings: Saturday Nov. 21, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Durham College,  Centre for Food/ Bistro 67, 1604 Champlain Ave., Whitby.

This weekend I will be at Bookapalooza in order to test the waters with my upcoming book, Feeding Frenzy. This will be my first visit to this Durham book fair which promises to be an exciting venue to hear author’s speak, buy books in time for holiday gift giving, and to meet interested readers.

My booth will feature free book giveaways that have something to do with Feeding Frenzy. That means many Jane Evanavitch novels, as I am a fan of her thriller-style pacing and humour. There will be fantasy novels with magic and also books with humour. People who visit my booth will be invited to join my mailing list and win a prize. Everyone who spins the wheel will receive either one of the books on display, or a copy of my upcoming ebook, or a quick access card to read the original version of the novel on Wattpad.

If you are in the area, you might like to check it out. I will also be doing a brief reading from the novel as part of a larger reading by the various exhibitors. This is a great way for people to get a foretaste of the books on display. Hope to see you there!

Bookapalooza Draw for Mystery Thriller Books

I’m going to participate in Bookapalooza, a book sale/launch/reading taking place Nov 21, 2015.
Book Fair & Readings
Book Fair & Readings
Since my novel, Feeding Frenzy, won’t be launched until the spring, I’m going to run a giveaway for published books in the supernatural thriller & comic mystery genres. Visitors to my table will also get a Q-code card which takes them directly to the Wattpad version of Feeding Frenzy online, and a chance to win a copy of the published version. By the way, readers of this website have free access to Feeding Frenzy on Wattpad by clicking the “Maaja’s Writing,” tab on this website. It isn’t the final version but it was chosen by Wattpad as a “featured story,” with 48 000+ reads. You may find interacting with the book-loving Wattpad community interesting.
Feeding Frenzy by Maaja Wentz

This coming-of-age romp combines thriller, mystery, horror and comic elements:

Feeding Frenzy is a supernatural thriller which explores our obsession with food. Sweet but chubby Tonya isn’t privy to deep family secrets, but when campus is overrun by a deadly obesity epidemic, only she can resist a hidden mind-controlling entity. Can Tonya uncover the mystery of its power before it’s too late?

It’s a witch’s brew of intrigue with a dollop of comedy, a teaspoon of romance, and a pinch of horror.

—  # 11 in Mystery/ Thriller on Wattpad.

“This is such an awesome story, and it’ll be a crime if it doesn’t win a Watty award this year.”
— Watty award winner @JoanneWeaver

My first Slam! Poetry as experience art, delivered as performance art

Over morning coffee recently, I started thinking about the Beat Poets and cut-up poetry and choose-your-own-adventure books and hyperlinked fiction. There had to be a way to turn Internet surfing into a kind of ‘experience art.’ I was thinking about what I could create if I had the technical know-how, when I started writing a poem about it.

Soon after I received a reminder from the WCDR about their upcoming poetry slam competition. My piece felt like spoken word so I fired off an email stating my intention to perform. I should explain that I have my son’s teen French exchange buddy living with us so we’re extra busy. I had three days to rehearse, including two at my parent’s cottage. I also have a longtime fear of forgetting lines in public. It’s the reason I love improvisation but have never tried any serious acting. Let’s say I spent a lot of the car trip desperately saying my lines in my head while the boys slept in the backseat.

I was delighted to get through my piece Monday July 7th but even happier to make the finals.

The finals Saturday were exciting but daunting when I realized there would be a camera as well as the live audience. My poem was well-rehearsed this time but I didn’t expect to win. Who expects to win with their first effort? I performed, enjoyed the applause and basked in positive feedback, including from guest slammer Cathy Petch who performed as the votes were tallied.

I’ve deliberately written non-fiction and stories and I have several novels in various stages of editing. It’s poetry I write the least and never deliberately. That’s why it surprises me that I’ve had recognition for “When Johnny Mars Turns Five,” publication of “Fallow God,” in the Urban Green Man Anthology and made the finals with my slam, “Found Poetry Finds You.” Perhaps the poetic muse exists after all. Perhaps there’s something in the coffee.

Now if I could just figure out how to automate cut-up poetry…

Happy writing,

Maaja

I’m getting published, twice!

I am bursting to tell you my publishing news, times two: 

My short story “Wild Caving,” is going to be published in the Amprosia anthology, which launches in two weeks.

My poem “Fallow God,” is going to be published in the Urban Green Man Anthology, with an introduction by Charles De Lint.

The Green Man is an archetype of renewal and fertility, associated with forests and the European countryside. You might see his carved face disgorging sculpted stone leaves or hear legends of the Green Knight. He is at home in churches, forests and at the ever popular Green Man Inn. 

This new anthology, edited by Adria Laycraft, takes the Green Man archetype into the modern landscape where he is reinvented, relevant, reborn. To me, the urban green man is a shot of hot sap to reawaken our true natures and shake us out of complacency. 

EARTH

Evergreen by Susan MacGregor
The Gift by Susan Forest
Sap and Blood by Martin Rose
The Green Square by dvsduncan
Awake by Peter Storey
Breath Stirs in the Husk by Eileen Wiedbrauk
Green Apples by Rhiannon Held

AIR

The Grey Man by Randy McCharles
Mr. Green by Gary Budgen
Whithergreen by Karlene Tura Clark
Cui Bono by Eric James Stone
Fallow God by Maaja Wentz
Green Man She Restless by Billie Milholland

FIRE

Purple Vine Flowers by Sandra Wickham
Exile by Mark Russell Reed
Without Blemish by Celeste Peters
Waking the Holly Kin Eileen Donaldson
Deer Feet by Michael J. DeLuca
Buried in the Green by Heather M. O’Connor
The Forest Lord by Sarina Dorie

WATER

Greentropy by Calie Voorhis
Abandon All… by Goldeen Ogawa
Green Salvage by Miriah Hetherington
The Ring of Life by Nu Yang
Cottage on the Bluff Michael Healy
Johnny Serious Satyros Phil Brucato
Fun Sucker by Suzanne Church

WOOD

Greener Pastures by Micheal J. Martineck
Green Jack by Alyxandra Harvey
Green is Good by Karen Danylak
Neither Slumber Nor Sleep by Kim Goldberg

Lena Coakley’s Witchlanders & WCDR Contest update

Witchlanders
I attended the WCDR breakfast meeting this morning. Speaker Lena Coakley was excellent, laying out the seven things she wished she had known about story, before she published her first novel. Lena is the author of Witchlanders, a high fantasy YA novel.
Some of her tips were:
  1. Learn about plot from screenwriters
  2. Know what your protagonist wants before you start to write
  3. Yearning must escalate in the protagonist as the story progresses
  4. Stories need to have different but linked character arcs and plot arcs
  5. Have your protagonist ‘save the bunny’ early in the story (perform some action to make readers like him or her)
  6. Mind the gap, ensuring reader expectations and character challenges are always worse and more interesting than they originally appear
  7. Use the objective correlative like a screen writer (the environment mirrors inner feelings)
This list is just a glimpse of Lena’s ideas which were supported by anecdotes and examples from authors as varied as Charlotte Bronte, Garth Nix, Aristotle and Terry Pratchett. If you get a chance to hear Lena speak, you won’t regret it.


Breakfast, with a side of suspense

While waiting for Lena to speak, we were served smoked salmon eggs Benedict, a delicious combination I could not eat. Why? They started naming finalists in the WCDR Amprosia contest. As my breakfast cooled, they called the final eight names, very slowly. I was sure I was ‘out’ when they said one last name, at the end of the alphabet: Maaja Wentz.
My story, “Wild Caving,” moves on to the final round, judged by acclaimed novelist Terry Fallis. Honourable mentions as well as prize winners will be announced at the March 16 breakfast meeting. I wonder if I can stand the suspense?

Wayson Choy at WCDR

I took away some great tidbits from Wayson Choy’s talk at the WCDR breakfast this morning. It was the first time I have attended one of their monthly breakfast meetings although I’ve been to the related Ontario Writers Conference.

When I first stepped into the dining room at the Ajax Convention Centre, it reminded me of facing the cafeteria, my first day of grade nine. Most of the seats were full and there were countless unfamiliar faces. I sat down at a table near the back and crossed my fingers. I needn’t have worried. WCDR members are very friendly. I enjoyed meeting new writers and saying hello to others I knew from CANSCAIP and beyond.

Choy began his talk by evoking discipline. He encouraged us to never give up but to find an individual writing process. Choy criticized teachers who insist all students learn as they do, likening this to a “teaching disability.” With my background in special education, I have to agree. There are many ways to mastery and they are seldom the same for everyone.

Choy emphasized writers must try different methods and switch if they don’t work. In other words: “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t be an idiot.”

My other favorite Choy quotes were: “Good writing is great gossip” and “Don’t call yourself a failure until you understand that failure is your teacher.”