Authors in the Adirondacks share tips, trade tricks and inspiration

Published Jul 30, 2017 at 9:00am

OLD FORGE — From Civil War history and the fictional stories of World War I soldiers, to outings with grandchildren and romantic encounters in the Adirondacks, local authors showcased their imaginations and talent at a recent book and authors’ fair at Old Forge Library.

About 30 authors participated, selling their published works while signing autographs, selling books and giving pointers to aspiring writers.

If it’s your dream to publish your own book one day, Connie Watkins advised young authors to make sure they do “a lot of reading — and creating memories builds up a story.” She is the author of narratives involving her grandchildren, including “The Icebox Snowball,” “Joey Days” and “Mushu.” Her latest release is “A Duck Named Eddie.”

“Remember to keep it personal,” Watkins said, as she reflected on the special memories created with her grandchildren that inspired her works. The author said she always wanted to write her own book, but never knew what she’d write about, plus other commitments got in the way. It wasn’t until retirement that Watkins spent more time with her out-of-state grandchildren, and a request to place a snowball in her refrigerator freezer would become a special shared story.

“My granddaughter inspired my first book in 2008. She’d never seen snow and wanted to make snow angels, go sledding and make snowballs,” Watkins recalled. “After she left, I decided I wanted to write a children’s book.”

Mark A. Komondor, known under the pen name M.A. Kaye, who teaches history at Lowville Academy, wrote his first book about World War I soldiers and their friends and families waiting for them to return home from their perspective after reaching heaven’s gate. He attended the fair with his trusted companion, Holly, the golden retriever with the pink bandanna.

“I wanted to show how the war affected people in different ways,” said Kaye as he reflected on what inspired his work. “I’m working on a book on the Civil War at the moment.”

Kaye said history is his passion, and it took him about two years to complete his first book while teaching full-time. A former student designed the cover art for his book, “The Grand Reunion.” The teacher said he’d eventually like to write a similar novel about World War II soldiers, and perhaps a sequel to his World War I saga. Kaye said it was the perfect time to release his novel seeing this year is the 100th anniversary of the U.S.’s entry into the War to End All Wars.

“I thought it would make an interesting story,” he said.

Linda Smolarek, who goes by L.R. Smolarek, said she views herself as the only Adirondack romantic writer. She worked as a naturalist, but now spends most of her time traveling with her husband.

“I was looking for a light, beach read,” while visiting the Old Forge area, “and all I could find were history books,” Smolarek said. “That’s when I came up with the idea to write something different and the book was born.”

In 2015 Smolarek released her first novel, “Adirondack Audacity,” which the author claims is, “a novel spiked with humor, mystery and a bit of sizzle...The perfect pairing with a glass of chardonnay and an Adirondack chair.”

The author shared her thoughts about getting self published on Amazon, a way for “authors to find their way on their own.” Smolarek said she never
considered herself a strong writer, but continues to write in her free time. In 2016 she released her sequel, “Audacity on the Water,” and she is also working on a novel to be published next year.

Prior to the book and authors’ fair, Old Forge Library hosted a free seminar to teach local writers how they can get started in becoming published authors. Literary Agent Katharine Sands, based in Manhattan and writer of “Making the Perfect Pitch,” offered tips to writers about writing query letters to help sell their works how writers can get noticed.

First, “You get ready, you get read, you get readers,” Sands told the crowd of about 25 seasoned and amateur local writers. “Talent comes from everywhere. When you become an author, you become an ambassador for your work.”

She started her talk by having each aspiring author write down a sentence that briefly described their recently finished book or their work in progress. “Why does the world need this book?,” Sands asked the writers. The agent then advised everyone to write something “seductive and appealing” to help “get someone excited about something that’s exciting to you.”

Sands spent time with the writers comparing and contrasting the traditional routes of getting a book published, to the more contemporary, like online publishing companies and domains such as Amazon.

“Amazon has been changing — they have separate agencies for different materials,” Sands said. “They morph from democratic works to different genres to multi-published programs. They have many more formats than ever before.”

She said, “There are many different ways to be published, giving more opportunities to get published. Still, it’s down to attracting an audience. We’re going to see phenomenons that would never be predicted” through online publishing.

Concluding her discussion, Sands left the crowd with a provoking thought meant to inspire her audience.

“Everyone has the ability to write a novel or story,” she said. “It’s just up to one’s own drive to make that dream a reality.”