Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another Appearance Today!

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm so excited, because today I have an author appearance at this HUGE craft fair in the town where I grew up - the event is almost 30 years old, and usually very well-attended (I'm crossing my fingers that the rain will hold off). Lots of crafts, and jewelry, and stuff to eat...but only one other person selling books besides me :)

I'm not only looking forward to having my books out in the public eye, but seeing some familiar faces from the past. It's a small town, and quite a few people I graduated with (that I never ever see) will probably be there.

I'll do my best to get some pics - now I'm off to set up my tent and do the sun-only dance!

Friday, July 18, 2008

But How Do You...?

"I even shower with my pen, in case any ideas drip out of the waterhead." ~Graycie Harmon

Devon asked yesterday how I found the writers' group I spoke to. Here's a little secret: check the newspaper. This writers' group was featured in my hometown paper, and my mom sent me the clipping. (So thanks mom!) But I also always check the "Local Events" calendar in my local paper as well, to see not only what authors are appearing where ('cause that might be an opening for me too), but also if there's a community group that might be interested in hearing an author speak.

To be honest, I had focused more on contacting book clubs and bookstores before, but it makes sense to target writers' groups as well. After all, they're REALLY interested in writing and getting published, so you would think they'd like to hear from someone who has.

There's an online site called, and I've heard authors recommend contacting groups listed there, too. They have groups organized by geographical location as well as interest, so I'll probably be checking them out for possible guest speaker opportunities too.

But today I have to spend a little time revising One Night in Napa. One of my writer friends said she recently read a piece of advice that said you must "live in your book" as you're working on it, which makes sense. If I spend too much time away, I forget what's going on, character names, the whole feel of the chapter I'm in.

So I'm off to write...wish me luck...I want to have this revised by the end of the summer!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Put 15 Writers Into One Room, and...

"Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will." ~Goethe

Last night I spoke at a writers' group - in the library of the hometown where I grew up. Quite fun, I have to say, and a better turnout than I expected: 15 people, all writers, and all quite interested in what I had to say.

I spoke about my general background, my books, and then answered questions about the writing and publishing process in general. Since everyone there was a writer (except for one woman, who loved to read but thought writing seemed "much too hard"), it was a really cool, relevant discussion. They asked questions about writing, and finding an agent, and making $$, and self-publishing, and then at the end one woman asked me how old I was, and when I told her, she said, "No way! I thought you were in your 20s." So that was probably the best part of the night :)

If you're an author, I highly recommend connecting with writers' groups. It's a great way to spread the word about your own work, while having meaningful conversations with "other people who love words," as one woman put it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Writers' Wednesday: An Interview with Marie Treanor

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday! Today I'm featuring a fellow Samhain author, Marie Treanor. Enjoy!

Hi Marie, and thanks for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born in Scotland where I live now with my husband and three kids. I'm a history graduate and a librarian by profession, although I haven't worked in libraries for about eight years! I stopped work when we moved out of the city and travelling became too difficult (good excuse, eh?), and then my youngest child was born so I've never felt inspired to go back. I love having the opportunity to write.

When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?

I began about as soon as I could hold a pencil! But I suppose the trigger to actually trying to get published, was my last job, which I hated. In my innocence I thought I could earn an alternative living from writing :)

Ah, I remember those innocent thoughts too! OK, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.

My latest book is Gothic Dragon, a sort of historical fantasy/not-quite-time travel romance, featuring a dark sorcerer hero. Basically my heroine stumbles into his world through a gothic novel, and falls in love with him. Well, so would I - have you seen the book's cover? :)

Wow, you're right - I love it! So how do you go about developing your characters?

Actually, they sort of develop themselves :) Usually they're the beginning of the story, and as I think about them, they become clearer. But I think they're only fully developed when I've actually finished the story!

What do you find most difficult about writing? What do you find most exciting or rewarding?

Hmm - I think I find the promotion most difficult, because basically I want to be writing. And yet there's less point to writing if you don't tell people the books are out there :) The most exciting is when the characters change the story for you, and the most rewarding when readers tell me they've enjoyed reading my books.

Great answers - I tend to agree on all three counts! But how do you balance writing with the rest of your life?

With difficulty! I don't work as many other writers manage to do, but I have a four year old daughter and two older kids who keep me busy! I like to spend time with my family and friends when I'm not writing, so basically it's my housework that suffers :)

When you write, do you use the computer or compose by hand, oral dictation, or some other method?

When I began, I wrote by hand and then typed it up - it was quite a useful self-editing process, but now I find it quicker to both write and edit on the computer. For one thing, I don't have to decipher my own hand-writing :)

Marie, thanks so much for giving us a peek into your writer's life today. Readers, Marie's novel Gothic Dragon releases on July 22 - make a note on your calendar...and in the meantime, visit her website to read an excerpt or find out more!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Today, an Interactive Post

"Fiction was invented the day Jonas arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale." ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Two things for you to do today!

For all you animal lovers, click here to sign a petition asking Barack Obama to consider adopting a shelter dog (apparently he promised his daughters a dog if he wins the White House in November). Here's the skinny:

If Sen. Barack Obama becomes president, he'll instantly be faced with decisions that will affect millions of Americans. Obama will also soon be making a decision that could affect millions of American dogs. It has been reported that once the election is over, the Obamas will be looking for a new four-legged family member (much to his daughters' delight).

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has suggested five types of purebred dogs that would fit the Obamas' lifestyle. While we don't disagree that it's important to choose a dog that matches well with the family, mixed breeds should certainly be considered along with pure breeds. Also, whether purebred or mutt, we believe the Obamas should make a winning choice and adopt a family dog, not buy one.

Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, left-wing, right-wing or any other wing, please sign our petition urging the Obama Family to adopt, and encourage all your friends and family to sign it, too.


And on a totally unrelated topic, here's an interesting quiz for you to take, borrowed from Chandler Craig (I have to say interesting here, because I'm not sure how the 6 questions led to "my" book, and, um, it's a little off base. But whatever. Take it anyway and see which book you are!)

You're Love in the Time of Cholera!

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Like Odysseus in a work of Homer, you demonstrate undying loyalty by
sleeping with as many people as you possibly can. But in your heart you never give
consent! This creates a strange quandary of what love really means to you. On the
one hand, you've loved the same person your whole life, but on the other, your actions
barely speak to this fact. Whatever you do, stick to bottled water. The other stuff
could get you killed.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tips for Book Signings

"At a Boston signing, someone from the audience asked why I was so obsessed with furniture in my books. The question rattled around in my head. I had no idea that I was obsessed with furniture." ~Jonathan Carroll

So I'm always doing research on promotions and marketing, and I came across this really helpful article the other day: 40+ Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an EVENT!

The author has some great tips, some of which I've already implemented. I wrote a press release for each of the places I'm going in the next few weeks, and I actually found one online for the Nichols Memorial Library in New Hampshire, which I thought was cool. Check it out here.

One of the article tips I really like is to bring a thank-you gift for the person who arranged your signing. Now, in most cases for me, it will be a woman, which is somehow easier to buy for: bouquet of flowers? box of candy? But the Director of the Nichols Library is a guy, and I know he's already advertised my appearance in a few places, including the library's blog. I definitely want to bring him some small token of appreciation...but what?

Anyone have any ideas on an appropriate thank-you gift for a man?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What I Learned...

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." ~Eartha Kitt

OK, so the best thing you can do from any experience, I think, is learn. I've been to a half-dozen author appearances/signings in the last 8 months, and including yesterday's at the Hobart Book Expo, this is what I think:

1. I've figured out how to put together a decent display. Take a look:

This includes a sign with my info (made by a friend in the sign business), blow-ups of my book covers (mounted and laminated at Staples for $18 each), my books (display copy sitting in a $3 picture frame/plate holder from AC Moore), bookmarks and business cards (both made at Vista Print), book prices, and a clipboard with a sign-up sheet for my electronic newsletter.

By the way, yesterday I only sold 4 books... it was quite a low turn out (some of the authors there didn't sell any) and I probably wouldn't do this event again.

2. Stand by your table rather than sit (even though I'm sitting in the picture) - it's easier to talk to potential customers if you're standing.

3. Realize you can gain something by talking to fellow authors as well. I exchanged business cards with everyone there, and had a long conversation about small presses...with a man who turned out to be the owner of a small press in Ohio. You never know who you're talking to!

4. Charge prices in $5.00 increments if possible - OK, I read this somewhere, but it makes sense. You can make change more easily, and people might be more likely to purchase a book in the first place, if it costs $15.00 rather than $19.95 + tax. And by the way, I noticed that about half the writers there yesterday were self-published, and their books were quite expensive!

5. Keep writing books. Again, the self-published authors I spoke to were there with THE ONE BOOK they had written. And I think that's fine - if you have a book that's burning to be published, and that's your one baby, fine. But if you want to be successful, become a name that people will remember and seek out and want to follow, then you have to keep writing. Not one of the self-published authors (and some of the ones published with small presses fell into this category as well) had written a second book. Gotta do it. It's one of the biggest parts of your marketing strategy, in my opinion.

And that's all today, folks, on the subject of What I Learned From This Public Appearance...