Sunday, September 28, 2008

Informational Open House for New Book Club: Oct. 2 in SL

In a previous post, we announced an exciting new book club in Second Life that involves the authors' participation, as well as the writers.

Story Mountain Center for Writers will be holding an informational open house on Thursday, Oct. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m. SLT to answer questions and get acquainted with anyone interested.

Join us at Story Mountain (SLURL) on Thursday -- stop by any time between 3 and 5 -- for refreshments, conversation, and information about the monthly book club.

All SL residents who enjoy reading fiction are encouraged to check it out. There is no cost, and you can participate in as many or as few discussions as you wish. The first book club meeting is on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 3:30 p.m. SLT, with Michelle Gagnon, author of October's book selection, BONEYARD.

Monday, September 22, 2008

NEW! Story Mountain Launches Book Club that Brings Authors and Readers Together for Book Discussion

Read a great book, and then discuss it with the book's author!

A new Second Life book club is launching at Story Mountain Center on Athena Isle with the first selection a literary thriller and page-turner, BONEYARD by Michelle Gagnon. Read the book this month (October) and join other readers and the author on October 23 to discuss it!

Michelle Gagnon made her first appearance in Second Life at a meeting of the Athena Isle Writers Club in August. She was fabulous! A warm and funny guest. (A transcript of that meeting is available on the Athena Isle Writers Blog: Bestselling Author Michelle Gagnon Shares Journey from Dancer to Crime Fiction Novelist.)

How does the Story Mountain Book Club work?
  • Every month, we'll pick a book whose author is willing to come into Second Life for the discussion.
  • To join the discussion, all you need to do is read the book before the meeting.
  • At the appointed time, we'll all gather with the author for an informal round-table discussion. (You'll be able to ask the author anything you want about the book you just read!)
  • Immediately after the discussion, we'll proceed to the Story Mountain Stage, where the author will give a live reading.
What are the details for October's reading?
About the novel: "On the trail of a serial killer, the path splits in two… FBI special agent Kelly Jones has worked on many disturbing cases in her career, but nothing like this. A mass grave site unearthed on the Appalachian Trail puts Kelly at the head of an investigation that crosses the line—from Massachusetts to Vermont, from wealthy vacationers to poor transients, from a serial killer to a copycat nemesis."

"Boneyard is a winner! A compelling page-turner that pays due attention to the human heart. It'll keep you up all night," says New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver.
  • Book club discussion with Michelle: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. SLT on Thursday, Oct. 23, at Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life. (Here's the SLURL). Come with questions, comments, or just an interest in hearing more about this book.
  • Live reading by Michelle: 4:30 p.m. SLT on Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Story Mountain Stage.
Who can participate?

Anyone in Second Life!
  • Although it would be preferable to read the book before attending the discussion, at this point, there's no requirement to do so (though there will be spoilers!).
  • The live author readings, however, are designed as much for those who haven't yet read the book, as for those who have read it. Everyone is invited to the live author reading!
For information on how to sign up for a free Second Life account, check out the Second Life website.

What does it cost?

There's no cost (other than buying your own copy of the book if you can't borrow it from the library or a friend), no commitment requirements, no discussion requirements. Come to as many or as few of the monthly discussions as you wish, discuss the book with the author -- or just sit back and listen.

Why are we doing this?

For several reasons:
  • To offer book lovers in Second Life a regular time to gather with other book lovers
  • By taking advantage of the virtual world's ability to eliminate travel, to bring readers and authors together who might otherwise never meet
  • To give authors a way to easily and inexpensively expand contact with their audiences around the world
How do you find out about future book selections and events?

The best way to stay up to date with book titles, authors, and dates and times of the monthly meetings is to join either of these two Second Life groups: Story Mountain Writers Group or Athena Isle Writers Group.

Alternatively, send your email address to:, and I'll also send you email reminders. (Please use BOOK CLUB for the subject.)

How to get a copy of the book:

In addition to all your usual avenues for obtaining a book, you can also come to Story Mountain Center's Bookstore in Second Life, where you can "touch" the book for a direct link to the product page at
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Writers & Readers: Enjoy an Informal Conversation with Three Bestselling Novelists

Want to "listen in" on some great conversations with bestselling novelists? I've "prettied up" and posted the transcripts from the last three Athena Isle Writers meetings to our blog. These meetings are intimate round-table discussions with guests (often in Second Life for the very first time) who are published authors or writing experts.

Crime fiction novelist Michelle Gagnon at Athena Isle Writers in Second LifeThe most recent guest was bestselling crime-fiction novelist Michelle Gagnon, whose second novel, The Boneyard, made it to the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association bestseller list the morning of our meeting! It joins her first thriller, The Tunnels, on that list, and ensures publication of more books in the series.

Michelle has some interesting and encouraging things to say to both writers and readers about such topics as:
  • How she began her writing journey
  • Where her novel ideas came from
  • The need for writers to market their books
  • The benefits of being part of the mystery-genre writers' community
Literary fiction writer Michelle Richmond at Athena Isle WritersNot to confuse matters, but our guest the week before Michelle Gagnon was another Michelle: literary fiction bestselling author Michelle Richmond. Her newest literary mystery, No One You Know, has just been released to rave reviews, while her previous novel, The Year of Fog, was a New York Times bestseller!

Michelle shared a wealth of advice and support for yet-to-be-published and emerging authors on a wide range of topics, including:
  • Finding agents and publishers
  • How to get started as a literary fiction author
  • Her own writing process
  • The two most important things for writers to do
Vampire Huntress Legends author L.A. Banks at Athena Isle Writers in Second LifeTwo weeks earlier, the acclaimed author of the popular Vampire Huntress Legends series of novels, L.A. Banks joined our meeting, and offered hugs, wisdom, and a great deal of support to the writers and readers at the event. She's just released the 11th novel in the 12-book Vampire Huntress series, The Shadows, as well as the first in her new Crimson Moon crime/romance series, Bad Blood.

An incredibly prolific author (more than 30 novels), Leslie shared many aspects of her writing career, including:
  • The circumstances that "forced" her into a writing career
  • Writing for TV and movies
  • Where she gets her ideas for books
  • How she manages to keep her characters and plots organized
All three authors shared their advice and thoughts on:
  • Finding and working with agents
  • Getting published
  • The importance (or not) of MFAs for writers
  • The exciting possibilities that Second Life can offer writers
Check out these bestselling authors' words of support and tips for writers, as well as photos of the events, held at Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life, at the Athena Isle Writers blog.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

Crime Thriller Novelist Michelle Gagnon to Join Athena Isle Writers Meeting Aug. 20 in Second Life

Michelle Gagnon, author of the thrillers The Tunnels and Boneyard (just out), will join the Athena Isle Writers round-table discussion on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 12 p.m. SLT (i.e., Pacific time), at the Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life.

Michelle Gagnon at Athena Isle WritersMichelle is a former modern dancer, dog walker, bartender, freelance journalist, personal trainer, model, and Russian supper club performer. To the delight of her parents, she eventually gave up all these jobs for an infinitely more stable and lucrative position as a crime fiction writer.

Her debut thriller The Tunnels was published in the United States and Australia, and was an IMBA bestseller. Described as "Silence of the Lambs meets The Wicker Man," the story involves a series of ritualized murders in the abandoned tunnel system beneath a university.

The second book in the series, Boneyard, depicts a cat-and-mouse game between dueling serial killers in the Berkshires.

"I defy anyone to read the first chapter of Boneyard and put the book down. Pure reading pleasure—creepy, terrifying, and utterly believable," says New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston.

Michelle is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers.

In her spare time she runs errands and indulges a weakness for stale cinema popcorn and Hollywood blockbusters. Hopelessly addicted to Scrabulous, she's seriously considering a twelve-step program. She lives in San Francisco with her family.

Everyone – writers and readers – are invited to come meet Michelle Gagnon on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 12 noon SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle. The meeting is free!

Monday, August 11, 2008

NY Times Best-Selling Novelist Michelle Richmond to Join Aug. 13 Athena Isle Writers Round-table Discussion

No One You Know by Michelle RichmondJoin in a round-table discussion with best-selling and award-winning novelist Michelle Richmond at the August 13 Athena Isle Writers meeting in Second Life. The one-hour meeting begins at 12 p.m. SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

Michelle is the author of the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle best-seller The Year of Fog, which was one of Library Journal’sBest Books of 2007,” a Kirkus Reviews top pick for reading groups, a Washington PostA-List” selection, and a San Francisco ChronicleNotable Book.”

The Year of Fog has been translated into nine languages and is currently in development with Newmarket Films.

Michelle’s third novel, No One You Know, is just out from Delacorte. In addition to The Year of Fog, her previous books are the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress, and the novel Dream of the Blue Room, which was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award.

Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, Playboy, Oxford American, The Believer, Salon, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2006 Mississippi Review Fiction Prize and the 2000 Associated Writing Programs Award, and has received fellowships from the Millay Colony, the Saltonstall Foundation, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, among others.

Michelle holds an MFA from the University of Miami, where she was a James Michener Fellow, and teaches in the MFA program in creative writing at California College of the Arts. She has also taught in the MFA programs of the University of San Francisco, St. Mary’s College of Moraga, and Bowling Green State University.

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Michelle lives with her husband and son in San Francisco. She is the founding editor of the literary journal Fiction Attic, and she serves on the advisory board of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation.

Come meet and discuss writing with Michelle Richmond on Wednesday, August 13, at 12 noon SLT, in an intimate round-table meeting at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle (SLURL).

The meeting is free and open, everyone is invited to attend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Prolific Novelist & Essence Storyteller of the Year L.A. Banks to Talk About Writing at July 30 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

L. A. Banks, author of the popular Vampire HuntressTM series of novels and recipient of the 2008 Essence Storyteller of the Year award, will be the guest speaker at the Athena Isle Writers meeting on Wednesday, July 30, at 12 noon SLT (Pacific time), at Story Mountain Center for Writers in Second Life.

Banks, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton undergraduate program, and received a Master's in Fine Arts from Temple University, has written more than 30 novels and contributed to 10 novellas, thus far, in multiple genres under various pseudonyms.

As a writer, she mysteriously shape-shifts between the genres of romance, women's fiction, crime/suspense thrillers, and of course, paranormal lore. One never knows how or when this enigma will appear . . . her forms are many, her secrets of crossing genres vast, and she does this with her teenaged daughter and her black Lab from some remote, undisclosed lair in Philadelphia.

Her Vampire Huntress series has become so popular among young adults that a Teacher's Curriculum Guide for the first two books has been created. The Office of Accelerated Learning, School District of Philadelphia, developed the guide as a result of numerous requests from educators nationwide who wanted to know how to harness the fantastic positive energy young people had as avid fans of the series. Given that the major themes in the Vampire Huntress legend were in alignment with the themes that many educators wanted to promote, these educators said they were also looking for ways to standardize a teaching methodology around the body of literature.

She also writes crime/suspense novels as Leslie Esdaile Banks, of which the most recent is No Trust; the Soul Food TV series novels as Leslie E. Banks; and women's fiction, romance (most recently Better Than), and motivational non-fiction as Leslie Esdaile.

L.A. Banks' newest book is Bite the Bullet, a Crimson Moon Novel, to be released in October 2008 by St. Martin's Press/Griffin.

Come meet L.A. Banks and learn more about her successful writing career next Wednesday, July 30, at 12 noon SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

The meeting is free and open, and all SL residents are invited to attend.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Author Shares Tips for Book Promotion: Locally and Globally (i.e., the Web)

Elizabeth Yarnell, a successful author who started out publishing independently, came to Story Mountain Center for Writers on July 16 to address the Athena Isle Writers meeting.

She provided many great insights at the meeting, and you can read them in this transcript of the meeting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sisters Who "Mix Pots & Pans With Pens & Puns" Will Discuss Their Writing Life at July 23 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

Janet and Greta Podleski, who make up the sister act that wrote the bestselling cookbooks Looneyspoons, Crazy Plates (a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Awards) and their latest, Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!, will be the guest speakers at the Athena Isle Writers Meeting on Wednesday, July 23, at 12 p.m. SLT (Pacific time).

PhotobucketAs they write in the introduction to Eat, Shrink & Be Merry!, "Whether you're trying to change your eating habits, lose weight, launch a new career, or even become a better parent, the journey we're about to describe will show you that, when you dream big, set goals, work hard, refuse to quit, and let passion be your guide, just about anything is possible."

Janet and Greta are also monthly columnists for Canada's No. 1 magazine, Reader's Digest, and were voted into Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2000. The sisters and their inspirational, self-publishing success story have been featured on dozens of national TV programs such as The Today Show, CNN, Canada A.M., and QVC, as well as on hundreds of radio shows, and in magazines and newspapers across North America.

Although Janet is not quite as handy in the kitchen as Greta (read: huge klutz), she brings many other talents to the table. A year-2000 inductee into Carleton University’s Sports Hall of Fame (for soccer and basketball), Janet’s fitness knowledge is only surpassed by her ability to endlessly create annoying puns. In addition to a B.A. in Psychology, she has also earned a degree as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, Janet and her Jack Russell Terrier, Lacey Lou, live in Ottawa.

Greta’s love of cooking began in her childhood after receiving an Easy-Bake Oven as a birthday gift. By age 12, she was preparing 3-course dinners for her 5 older sisters and her parents, using a real oven. Originally from St. Thomas, Ontario, Greta and her food-obsessed dog, Lexi, live in a 150-year-old farmhouse in rural Kitchener.

Come meet the Podleski sisters and hear their story next Wednesday, July 23, at 12 noon SLT at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

The meeting is free and open, and all SL residents are invited to attend.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How the Web Can Help You Sell Your Book: July 16 Athena Isle Writers Speaker to Share Success Strategies

Want to learn how to publicize your book in the new millennium? Come to the July 16 Athena Isle Writers meeting in Second Life, when our guest speaker will be best-selling author and publicity coach Elizabeth Yarnell.

After being rejected by a stack of publishers, Elizabeth Yarnell independently published her best-selling, award-winning first book: Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking.

As a one-woman show, she knew it was up to her to make her book a success, so she learned how to be her own publicist, and landed everything from television appearances to stories in national magazines, prominent newspapers, and radio shows. Most recently, she has been focused on using social network marketing to get free publicity and prepare for her next book launch.

After selling more than 10,000 copies of Glorious One-Pot Meals, Elizabeth landed a New York agent and was picked up by Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House. Now she shares her publicity expertise through workshops, seminars, as a publicity coach, and on her Website "Recipes for Publicity: Cooking up strategies to get yourself noticed by the media and online communities."

Elizabeth will talk about her successful strategies at the Athena Isle Writers meeting at 12 noon SLT, Wednesday, July 16, at the Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle.

The meeting is free and open, and all SL residents who want to learn more about using online communities and social networking to generate publicity are encouraged to attend.

Upcoming Guests of Athena Isle Writers:

7-23-08: Janet and Greta Podleski, authors of Eat, Shrink & Be Merry

7-30-08: L.A. Banks, award-winning author of 10-book Vampire Huntress series

8-13-08: Novelist Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of the Fog and the newly released No One You Know

Friday, June 27, 2008

Learn About Revolutionary New Publishing Opportunity at July 9 Athena Isle Writers Meeting

Melissa Jones of, the revolutionary online writing and publishing company, will be guest speaker at the Athena Isle Writers meeting on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, at 12 p.m. SLT.

WEbook aims to do for the publishing industry what American Idol did for music. Melissa will tell us how this website supports writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators, and others in joining forces to create great works of fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and essays, short stories, children's books and more.

About Melissa Jones:

Melissa grew up in the woods in northern California. She wrote her first story at the age of 8, and quickly learned to use writing to escape to a world of fantasy. At 16, she left home to make her fantasies come true, and she has since lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Japan, and Cleveland.

She attended Columbia University’s MFA program in fiction, and now resides in Brooklyn. Her short stories have been published in ZZYVA and Identity Theory. The two chapters she wrote for Pandora, WEbook's first published novel, are her first contributions to a published novel. She is the content manager for, and she’s in a committed, long-term relationship with a novel, though she occasionally has affairs with short stories and personal essays.

Athena Isle Writers (formerly Second Life Writers Club) meeting are held at 12 p.m. SLT each Wednesday at Story Mountain Center for Writers on Athena Isle ( Everyone is welcome to attend.

Guests scheduled for upcoming meetings:

Elizabeth Yarnell, author of One-Pot Meals, will talk about "Recipes for Publicity: how to create strategies for attracting publicity from the media and online community"

7-23-08: Janet and Greta Podleski, authors of Eat, Shrink & Be Merry

7-30-08: L.A. Banks, award-winning author of 10-book Vampire Huntress series

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