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Andrea S Campbell

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In Search of the First Tribe
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Newsletter Dated: 3/3/2003 2:23:06 PM

Subject: Soup's On

Andrea Campbellís Newsletter

March/April 2003

*** Greetings! ***
This newsletter is being sent to you because you are a writer, family member, professional friend of Andreaís, or a fan and reader of her books. If you are new to the list, welcome. There are a ton of newsletters and e-zines out there to read, thanks for requesting and reading mine. I am excited about this venue because it gives me the opportunity to reach larger numbers of people in a much shorter time. It will also contain more personal content and address things I donít discuss on my web site.

Have questions, comments, or ideas for future publication? I look forward to your input and never turn down helpful hints. This newsletter is a continued work-in-progress and I hope you will stay around to see new features in every bi-monthly issue.

*** News About Ziggy ***

You may think it strange, but Ziggy, (our capuchin monkey for readers who have just come on board) fell in love with a ball. The ball was a WalMart special about the size of a soccer ball named Giggle Grape. It had a face painted on it that looked remarkably like Snidely Whiplash, plus, it smelled like, what else? grape! Anyway, she carried that thing with her everywhere, groomed it--by picking at the fill hole--and when she was out of the cage and it was still in, sheíd keep an eye on that ball the whole time. So Giggle Grape (GG) took baths with Ziggy, sat on the couch with Ziggy, and just generally got caked with some amazingly gross stuff.

The director at Helping Hands where Zig is now undergoing training for her work with a quadriplegic (whew! sorry for all the backstory), expressed concern about what would happen if GG suddenly took a deflated turn. Well, just before Valentines Day Michael found another, similar ball, this one black with the Tazmanian Devil painted on it--no smell though--and we boxed it up and sent it to Boston.

Ziggy sent a thank you note not too long after. Some of the copy said: "Thank you so much for the brand new play ball! I just love it. I flirt and talk to the face all day, and even GG and the new guy get along! I think of you often and miss you, but donít worry--everybody LOVES me here! They are always telling me what a good girl I am. We are all so excited to move into our new building. Weíre going to be the luckiest monkeys in townÖ."

And, of course, she added her characteristic scribbles with watercolor pensóher signature art (paper can be too white, you know).

Anyway, by the time you read this, we will have passed the dreaded anniversary date, February 26, the day we put her on an airplane after almost thirteen years of love and adventure together. At times my body feels like a cave and I am screaming inside but only hear the echoes within, I miss her so much. Ziggy came to me at an extremely trying time in my life, after the third facial reconstruction surgery, and helped me to think about other things. Consequently, a large part of my identity was bound up in Ziggy, including her book, Bringing Up Ziggy.

For people who have never interacted with a primate, you might not think about the fact that when you raise a monkey >you wear it every day< either laying across your shoulders, in your shirt, or draped on your arm. Canít say that about a dog or a cat! I just have to hold dear to the fact that Ziggy will add a lot of fun and serious love to someone elseís life, someone who sorely needs a companion and nonjudgmental friend.

*** A Good Resource for Mystery Writers ***

I donít know as I ever mentioned this, but I am a Contributing Editor for a newsletter called First Draft. First Draft is a publication created by the Guppies, a subsidiary group under the umbrella of Sisters in Crime. The column I write, called "No Stone Unturned"--my trademark for columns, yes, I use "No Stone Unturned" in my capacity as Contributing Editor for The Simian as well--features articles based on forensic science questions from other fiction writers. Iíve written about such amusing topics as exhumation, cremation, anthropology, and the like. My articles are posted in archive format for this group, so, if you are looking for an extremely active, supportive bunch of writers, this is one membership to look into. The dues are inexpensive, the newsletter is terrific, and the e-group list very informative and full of friendly, helpful comment. I offer the URL to you here:

*** Advice for All of Us! ***

In my capacity as a resource for Pitscoís Ask An Expert service, I receive a lot of email. Below is one example of a letter I got from Taiwan. After I answered Tinaís question, it occurred to me that this would be good advice for all of us. Read on:

Dear expert:

Iím a university student of Taiwan. I have a problem I want to ask. I have been eager for becoming a writer since I was a child. But I donít know if I have the talent to be a writer. In addition to read more books, how can I train myself to be more attentive? And how can I learn more skills about writing? I really need your suggestions. Please mail me. Thank you very much.

My answer:
Dear Tina,

The fact that you are seeking advice and information is a good sign. I would suggest you start by keeping a diary, sometimes called a writerís journal. Donít be intimidated by the title because no one will see this journal but you. To begin, why donít you place your journal and a pen next to your bed, and first thing upon arising write down what youíve dreamed. If you think you canít remember dreams, keep at it, eventually you will. You must capture these subconscious thoughts before they dissipate under the morningís routine.

I also suggest you design a running list called "What I Can Do" or "My Strengths," and list all the things that you have mastered, become adept at, or skills that you can be proud of, such as: I can draw portraits, or, The children next door are spellbound by my stories, and, I can speak in front of my class, etc. This will help give you confidence as you learn and grow.

Also, think about writing "unsent letters" when you get angry. Suppose someone has done something that makes you mad, in your diary write them a letter and express your feelings. Donít hold back. You will never actually mail the letter, but the next time you have a character (if you write fiction) who needs to be angry, consult your journal and remember how you felt when you were enraged--that ought to help you conjure up the same feelings. As a bonus, it may also help you to deal with or alleviate those feelings.

Read, read, read. Whatever it is you want to write, you should be reading it: mysteries, nonfiction, biographies--read in your genre. We often learn by emulating the best, so surround yourself with authors who are really great. That will have an impact on your learning curve.

Join a book readerís club. By getting input from other readers you will learn why others pick certain titles, what works, and what doesnít.

Start a small critique group. Perhaps by analyzing your current writing, you will discover your strong points and also find out the things you need to improve upon. You neednít take someone elseís assessment of your work as gospel, just be aware of his comments, they may be right!

Take a creative writing class or some type of college offering that involves writing and reading.

Join professional organizations, many of them have student rates. You would be surprised at what you can glean from their professional newsletters and monthly updates.

In the same vein, attend professional workshops and conferences. You might as well begin your networking now, publisher's demand it.

Spend time with other writers and authors and attend their readings and booksignings--observe for the future.

Keep at your studies in regards to learning correct grammar, syntax, and the different format styles required for manuscripts, business letters and queries.

Write, write, write. We learn writing by doing (and maturing). Write small scenes, write articles, and write letters.

Live, live, live. Itís true, you must come out of your routine and discover new people and challenging ways of dealing with life and the environment. Seek to be an interesting person yourself.

Try to write a "student perspective" for your schoolís newspaper or even a short column in your communityís newspaper. It teaches discipline--because you have to keep it up--and you will develop better skills as time goes by.

Try your hand at interviewing people. Perhaps you will be inspired by someone elseís life and will want to write about it. Great practice for future coming events.

Study your audience. Want to write for children? Go where children are: to schools and volunteer to help the English teacher there, work with teachers and students on a school play, or do a reading in their library.

Teach someone else to read, read at old folkís homes or just offer your talents at the local library. Just being around reading and books is inspirational.

Keep your ears open for dialogue. Yes, learn to eavesdrop. If you want to write how people talk, listen to discourse and when you are in a restaurant or out where you can monitor people discreetly, you will pick up differences between socioeconomic classes, ethic groups, and gender.

Grab every "how-to" book you can find and study what itís telling you.

Hope these ideas help. Good luck with your career whatever you decide.

Andrea Campbell

*** ASJA Conference 2003 ***

I am moderator for a panel at next yearís American Society of Journalists and Authorsí East Conference to be held May 2-4, 2003, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Most sessions are an hour, my group has an hour, forty minutes!

The name of the session is: Writing That Works: Connecting With Your Reader. Trade secrets from top authors on how to create compelling turn-the-page writing. Advice on craft, structure and style that will take your work to a higher level and attract the attention of the best agents and editors.

My panelists are the best! Roy Peter Clark is a writing and journalism expert affiliated with the Poynter Institute. Philip Gerard creates in many different mediums from nonfiction to novels to radio essays, as well as writing scripts for Public TV. His book Writing Creative Nonfiction and Writing A Book That Makes A Difference are both in my library. Rebecca McClanahan has had published three books about writing including Word Painting (and a new book Iím dying to hear more about called Write Your Heart Out). A poet extraordinaire and expert in personal essay writing, we are happy to have her. Patricia T. OíConner has been an editor at the Des Moines Register, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, where she spent 11 years on the Sunday Book Review section. Sheís the bestselling author of three books about language Woe Is I, Words Fail Me, and You Send Me, and appears monthly on public radio as WNYCís "language maven."

For more information visit:

*** Upcoming Workshops ***

For my forensic science friends locally, I will be teaching a primer on forensic art at the Arkansas Division of the International Association for Identificationís spring training conference in Hot Springs, April 16, 17, and 18. Some of the other sessions will be on Homeland Security, Flu Pandemic, Burn Victims, Bio-terrorism and more. For more information write to the President of our division, Cathy Ruhl, at:

In May, Iíll be at the Arkansas Library Paraprofessionals (ALPS) Conference at Lake Degray on Monday the 19th. The conference continues into the 20th and 21st. Iíll be talking about this writerís life and whatever else transpires--I love my time with librarians, so, anything goes!

*** Free Book Industry Information ***

Canít afford to subscribe to Publisherís Weekly? The next best option is to request "Publisherís Lunch," a daily email (when they can, it says), about trends in publishing, the latest book deals, and other book-related schtick. A free sign-up can be had at (subscribe in the frame on the left).

Another email letter Iíve found thatís pretty cool is USA TODAYís book mail. They feature articles about books you can jump to with hyperlinks, plus other, book business reviews and comments. To subscribe go to:

*** This Just In ***

ē To see my mug and read the latest interview at Book Review Cafť (a fun place) go to:

ē During the beginning of March, I'll have an interview online at and a link on the resources page. Check it out in a week or so:

ē And for those of you who donít know it, C. Hope Clark has a wonderful writerís newsletter called Funds For Writers. Itís a combination of inspiration laced with encouragement, writer tips, and lists of bona fide markets and grant writing opportunities. Sign up at:

ē I have also made some new writer friends, Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, authors of a mystery series set in the early Roman Empire. For my listing and their book information, point your clicker at the following!

Not to mention:

*** Quotable ***

I think this came from a perfectionist:

"If at first you donít succeed, destroy all evidence you tried."

*** Future Newsletters ***

In upcoming newsletters I hope to answer readerís questions, share a new story or two, talk more about publishing, and provide additional writerís tips. If there is any area of my life or work you would like to discuss, from autopsy to monkeys, just send me a note. Thanks for the read. : 0 )

Copyright©2003 Andrea Campbell If you wish to quote from here, fine, just attribute it to me and my web site.

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