Announcing: I have a publishing deal for my novel

I’m excited! For all of you who have followed my journey, I will soon be a published children’s book author. My middle grade novel, The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes debuts in March 2018.

My publisher, HenschelHAUS Publishing has helped birth more than 550 books since 2002. With my traditional publishing contract, my series will be available in large chain bookstores, the HenschelHAUS Publishing website, independent bookstores, and via Amazon.com.

The Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes is the first in a planned three-part series. I invite you to follow my 12-year-old African-American superhero, Mighty Marty Hayes and his band of multi-cultural classmates. Their love of advanced science, particularly the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology, and spy gadgetry lead to a battle with international goons set on stealing the technology. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the action climaxing in our nation’s capital at the International Spy Museum.

Time. Space. Create.
That’s the value of artist and writer residencies.
My eternal thanks to:

Noepe Center for Literary Arts, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
2015 & 2016

CAMAC, Centre d’Art, Marnay-sur-seine, France 2017

 

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Everyone is a Storyteller!

The amazing SCBWI Co-founder Lin Oliver says so!

A gem of my journey to publication of my middle grade manuscript has been my membership in the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a 25,000 member organization founded in 1975 by the amazing Lin Oliver.
Members can join a chapter throughout the United States or in any of the 120 chapters throughout the world. Annual conferences bring members together.

So, I felt like I was meeting a rock star when I came face-to-face with Lin Oliver at last weekend’s SCBWI-Wisconsin Fall Retreat held in Wisconsin Dells. I was honored to join the faculty to bring authors and pre-published authors my presentation on the importance of sharing their works through public presentations. Since we spend most of our days hunched over a keyboard and blinking cursor, speaking before an audience isn’t very intuitive. My belief is that the work isn’t done until enthusiastic readers can meet their favorite authors in person and see themselves in the pages of a book.

I’d like to share Oliver’s sage advice.

“Everyone is a storyteller. Pay attention to your urge to tell stories,” she advised. The audience chuckled as Oliver told of her childhood spent cycling around her neighborhood telling tall tales about her family. “I was punished for every story I told. But, I persisted.”
After graduating from UCLA, Oliver went on to work for Universal Studios, worked on the Beverly Hillbillies TV show, and produced the first children’s movie by E.B. White. She formed SCBWI in the 1970s. She’s perhaps best known for the dozens of books she’s written with Henry Winkler, or “The Fonz” from the sitcom, Happy Days. She also runs her own production company and has written and produced many TV series and TV movies.

Oliver notes:

8 reasons why children book authors are vital
1. We are leading the tastes and values of the next generation. Authors are professionals and must ask to be treated as such by all of the people in their lives.
2. Read deeply. Develop your own career. Keep a journal of what you read. You’ll define a taste and voice for yourself.
3. Seek your own voice. Follow your own weirdness. Know what you are good at.
4. Study your craft. It’s not a children’s book if a child doesn’t solve the story problem.
5. Only create what you feel deeply about. Tell a story that fiercely comes from inside your guts.
6. Marinate. Allow for gestation and patience. Ideas take time.
7. Enjoy and observe your thoughts and experiences from a writer’s/illustrator’s viewpoint.
8. Share your hopes and dreams with our creative community.

So, authors press on. Make this year your “Yes of Yes.” Great things materialize when we step outside our comfort zone and just say yes. I’ll have an announcement next week. All because, I said, “Yes.”

Lora Hyler is a communications expert with a 25+ year career in broadcast radio and television, and corporate communications, working with the media, energy and financial industries. She’s also consulted with education institutions, and youth non-profit organizations. She’s been a SCBWI member since 2015. Her artist residencies in Marnay-sur-seine, France and on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. have given her time and space to create children books.

 

Advice to budding authors: Give Back

As I reflect on my journey toward publication of my middle grade children manuscript, I realize that this community is unlike any other I’ve encountered during my 30-plus year career. Workshops, conferences, residencies all offer settings to find your tribe. Easy conversations begin with, “what are you writing?” and end with opportunities for writing or critique partners, resource referrals and insights to a path to successful publication.
I’m finding that volunteering my time to present a workshop or staff a booth at conferences, to help my fellow published authors sell books, has provided me with keen marketing insights. Authors sharing personal highs and lows provided me with valuable information about the publishing business. Perhaps my biggest aha moment came while standing in a kitchen thousands of miles abroad comforting a distraught artist. She cried that in the midst of a world gone mad, art is meaningless. Quite the contrary, I said. Hours later, I realized I had convinced myself.
For more on my journey to publication, take a peek at recently published articles.

Writer’s Digest article posted my guest blog on August 16, 2017.
Finding an agent and approaching artist residencies

SCBWI article posted August 22, 2017. I’m on the faculty for the upcoming SCBWI fall conference.
An interview with Lora Hyler
http://wisconsin.scbwi.org/category/blog/

 

Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre (CAMAC) & Paris, France Photos

Each time I view my photos taken in France, I receive inspiration. Expect to see my next middle grade novel filled with an imagination sparked via the French countryside and Paris. In the meantime, enjoy this selection of photos!

SCBWI, an invaluable resource for children book writers

Writing books, whether for children or adults, is a business.

Yet, after a 25+ year business career, the camaraderie of aspiring authors and authors in the Society of Children Book Writers strikes me as unparalleled. I took a moment to reflect on this following my month-long writing residency at Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre (CAMAC) in France.

SCBWI is an international organization with chapters throughout the world. So, it occurred to me to reach out to the head of the French chapter during my stay in France. It wasn’t long before I had an invitation to attend a master session of a renowned children’s book editor who helped launch the career of the most famous modern day children book writer. Airline scheduling problems prevented me from extending my stay, but I was able to reach out to the editor with my query, which was welcomed. Let’s all cross our fingers.

I have countless examples of generosity extended by Wisconsin members as well. All designed to make the climb just a bit easier for the struggling author. Our conferences invite agents, publishers, editors, authors and illustrators from far and wide. Connections are made and to the budding author, crossing the finish line to publication seems closer.

I’m happy to give back to SCBWI. I’ve recently agreed to join the faculty of the upcoming fall conference. The image in this post is the illustration of our theme, “Experiment and Play.” Who says business has to be dull? I will share my knowledge of public speaking and marketing with authors through a presentation, “Presentation skills for authors and storytellers.” Getting books out into the world is one thing, but bringing words to life with an author’s passion is true performance art, with the ability to leave an indelible mark on book lovers and reluctant readers.

SCBWI’s Wisconsin chapter has released its fall offerings list. Support a local author. Buy a book. Enchant a child.

http://wisconsin.scbwi.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/86/files/2017/06/SCBWI-FALL2017-Web.pdf

Lora Hyler is on a journey toward publication of her middle grade manuscript, The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes. Her latest writers residency in Marnay sur Seine, France gave her the space and time to create. She’s a member of the international Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), will be a fall Wisconsin conference speaker and serves as the Listserv administrator.

In France, residents live and laugh with uncertainty for the future

The headline of this blog post summarizes the Guardian news article I am attaching.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/28/paris-soldiers-on-street-change-way-of-life

As the article states, French writer Albert Camus writes of individuals and their “ability to forget.”

It was disconcerting to walk around Paris and regularly encounter a team of four soldiers, with weapons at the ready. Paris remains on high alert due to terrorism concerns, along with other sections of the country. I witnessed an uncanny display of dissonance that will likely stay with me forever. A baby-faced soldier on patrol with three others suddenly stopped walking. They were on duty circling the perimeter of Notre Dame Cathedral.

He gingerly stepped over a low fence in the garden in front of the Cathedral. On this sun-drenched day, on display were bountiful, colorful roses. He stooped down, and seemingly from thin air, pulled out a set of shears, snipped off a rose, and dropped it into a bag on his hip. Flowers for a loved one? Perhaps. A fragrance-laden reminder of the beauty of the place he loved, but was now reduced to protecting with rifles? Perhaps.

We tourists giggled. Our anxious looks at the soldiers armed with rifles, were temporarily replaced with a human connection. A young man, not much older than my own 21-year-old son would be forever imprinted by the vigilance he must endure scanning strange faces, seeking an indication of a possible threat before it materializes. Relaxing only when off duty. If, then. For just a moment, he and his fellow soldiers were able to relax while on duty.

I like to think our spontaneous giggles were joined in the air with prayers for France’s future.

Photograph: Pascal Rossignol, Reuters

Inspiration for Writers

As I left a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Paris this week, a proprietor said to me, “Hopefully, you are finding inspiration.”

Indeed. And in ways, I could have scarcely imagined. Writing in a country new to you opens up the eyes unlike anything one would experience at home. Surrounded by artists who have trekked to France from all over the world, to the natural wildlife inhabitants along the Seine River, to new locals with their lilting French accents, inspiration thrives everywhere.

At CAMAC, the doors of our 17th century former priory opened last night for an Open Studio, designed to show one’s artistic sensibilities. So, The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes has had its international debut. Starting with France. More to come for me and my fellow artists.

The artist’s journey calls for perseverance, discipline, opening up for comments and observations, and learning how to act as a mutually supportive community member. In whichever community one finds one’s self.

In seeking further inspiration, I am encouraged by the journey of many artists with ties to this place. Many are of African heritage. France has a long history of diversity. The famous Musee’ D’Orsay featured statutes of Africans; you may also gaze upon the works of Rodin and Van Gogh. In France, I discovered Gare Rosa Parks, a train station named after the American Civil Rights hero.

Gustave Flaubert. Camille Claudel. Auguste Rodin. Josephine Baker. Henry Ossawa Tanner. Richard Wright. Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith. Alexandre Dumas.

Alexandre Dumas, of African heritage, is the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. His mansion has been converted into a museum west of Paris. I’m mulling over a visit for further inspiration.

My manuscript number two for middle school children. Superheroes. Spy Gadgets. Science. And the French Connection??

Stay inspired.

Enjoy this 360 degree view of site of my residency: CAMAC, Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre, Marnay sur Seine, France.

Writing and Roses

 

It’s nearly end of week 2 of my writer’s residency in Marnay sur seine, France.

I’ve enjoyed the local cuisine and libations. You can’t beat fresh champagne from the Champagne Ardenne region southeast of Paris.

During these two weeks, I’ve worked on the outline and plot points for my second middle grade manuscript. I’ve sent in submissions of the first to publishers.

And in the French countryside with few distractions, I’ve taken time to listen to the birds sing, to listen to the frogs do what they do, and to watch the dance of the sky. Spring unfolds through vibrant awakening flowers.

Taking the time to walk the grounds of CAMAC and to witness the rebirth of roses and irises is heavenly. Centre d’Art Marnay Art Centre has carved out a space for artists.

ADD Photo white roses and purple irises and me yesterday, a vision in blue

Lora, What does this quiet time have to do with writing, you may ask?

Everything.

When a writer peers into his or her brain to unlock imagination, we may find tangled wires stemming from thoughts of the day’s tasks, wondering what last night’s argument really meant, pondering what to have for dinner. You get the picture. It isn’t until we relax and join the beauty of the moment that we are free to enter the wonder of a space of creativity.

So, to turn from book 1 of The Stupendous Adventures of Mighty Marty Hayes to book 2 is a daunting, yet freeing task.

The page is blank, but will soon be filled with lively 12-year-olds ready to use their superpowers, science and spy gadget smarts to bring more light into the world.

A’ bientot!  I’ve got a flower to nurture.

 

Long walks in France, time to solidify ideas, and to turn them into action

Long walks among nature, discussions over dinner with strangers, time to reflect and crystallize ideas.

These are the hallmarks of an artist or writer’s residency, whether it’s in France, Martha’s Vineyard, or far flung places of the earth.

A recent discussion at CAMAC, Centre d’ Art Marnay Art Centre prompted me to reflect on what divides us and what brings us together. My thoughts go to my new journey toward novel publication, my December 2016 visit to the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the dearth of children’s books reflecting the colors and beauty of all children.

As adults, we are a reflection of our upbringing, our choices, our education and our environmental decisions-where to live, who to associate with, where to work, how to develop our inner selves. Children don’t have that luxury. They are our most fragile and as a nation, need our energies directed toward lifting them up.

Yes, we need to know our tangled American history of divisiveness and racism, leaving scars all too visible today. However, for those of us who are people of color, enough with the recitations of history we know all too well. I am a forward-looker. I intend to solely contribute to positive stories of our past. Let us focus on recitations of positive contributions of people of color, all too often overlooked in history. I’ll point to the popular Hidden Figures film as evidence. It took decades for the story to surface. The theaters were filled with people of color, and people of all colors, in pure awe at what they were seeing on the screen. African American women calculating the math to send man to the moon.

This blog posting includes a few of the photos I took while visiting the National Museum of African American Art and Culture. My husband and I are now members and financial supporters. Who are these unsung heroes, you might ask? Who are they indeed. Why am I just learning of these trailblazers, you might ask? Publishers didn’t publish these stories. Hollywood gatekeepers didn’t greenlight these scripts.

Now, let’s think of children today who must scramble to find images in books that reflect their lovely faces. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center in Washington, D.C. has been keeping count. Despite population demographics, 73.3% of children books published in 2015 featured white images. Another 12.5% featured animals, trucks, etc., and the remaining percentage (26.3%) encompassed American Indians/First Nations, Latinx, Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans, and Africans/African Americans.

I am working towards a world of inclusion, and not as an afterthought. The publication world’s We Need Diverse Book movement is on the right track. I challenge publishers, educators, parents, and authors to uplift a child of color. We Need Diverse Books to save a child.

 

Marnay sur Seine, France Musings

I have completed week one of my month-long writer’s residency here in Marnay sur Seine, France.

It is very much an artist’s paradise. Located along the Seine river, with a 12th century church bell tolling the hour and the half hour, wildlife of all sorts play inches from the balcony of the room where I am writing. I appreciate the time and space to write surrounded by natural beauty. The Centre d’art Marnay Art Centre (CAMAC) has a storied history here, welcoming artists from all over the world.

A visit to the new Musee’ Camille Claudel in tiny Marnay sur Seine reveals the depth of the talent that have strolled these streets. Claudel was a talented sculptress and her one-time lover, Paul Godin, was renowned for his poetry, sculpture and writings. Claudel was the archetypical tortured artist, with a stay in an insane asylum spanning decades. A story worth researching.

I strolled past the former family home of French ecrivain (writer) Gustave Flaubert (1921-1880), known for Madame Bouvary, among other works.

A simple walk down the street from CAMAC unveils glimpses of the old life, providing inspiration around every corner. Residents of the town have chosen to keep much of the old stone architecture, with simple updates of shutters and windows, giving one a feel of residing in another century.

My middle grade manuscript No. 1 is out on submission (seeking an agent or publisher). Manuscript No. 2 is underway here in France.

For the latest relaxing scene outside my writing space, sign up for my YouTube videos. Go to the main site: www.youtube.com and enter LoraHylerAuthor

Au revoir!