Just returned from the RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City and what fun. Plus, it snowed! Yep, in May, we had a snowstorm. Took pictures for my kids which they thoroughly enjoyed. As Floridians, snow is thrilling. Unfortunately, my assistant Tiffany had to drive home through it.
Isn’t she great? She drove two hours to help me with the Thursday book signing and I couldn’t have done it without her. Much to everyone’s delight, she passed out cornbread recipe cards and steered them straight to my table. WTG, Tiffany!
We sold some books, made some new friends and look forward to attending again next year ~ in New Orleans! I also had the pleasure of meeting my fellow Central Florida Romance Writers Lori Sjoberg and Roxanne St. Claire. Always nice to see friendly faces. Ran into Brenda Novak as well and if you’re not familiar with her annual online auction for juvenile diabetes, it’s a must see, with a ton of great items for readers, writers — everyone!
Reader conventions are so much fun, they’re definitely my new focus. Do you know of any great ones?
Until then, must get back to writing. After hearing the amazing success stories from my fellow indie authors – my juices are energized!
Just finished up with my first Facebook Release Party celebrating my new series, Ladd Springs. It was a lot of fun, but it was my first and what I consider, a “work in progress.”
Hosted 5 days of online festivities, beginning on release day (Wed-Sun). Not sure if days of the week matter, but I wanted to make sure busy working women could stop by and post.
My series is set in Tennessee, so I posted Tennessee trivia questions each and every day for visitors to guess. It was sort of my way to get into the “region” of the story.
I posted personal pictures from Tennessee, specifically the property that inspired the series. This was to give readers a visual for some of my scenes in the books, then encouraged them to post their own pics of TN.
“Name that horse” was a post on day two, giving readers a chance to name a foal in an upcoming book. Visitors posted their favorite horse names which I collected and plan to post on my website and offer up for a vote via Poll Daddy. Name with the most votes wins and credit will be noted in the acknowledgements.
“Name that southern comfort food” was another day, giving readers a chance to name–you guessed it–a character’s favorite comfort food in an upcoming book. But I’ll also use this food item on my recipe cards (SWAG) that I create for each and every release.
During the entire event, my street team (Bloomin’ Warriors) were given the chance to win the entire Ladd Springs series if they posted a picture of themselves wearing their bloomin’ warrior T-shirt (included in their sign up package) on my Facebook event page during the party. I had 10 show up in their garb!
Of course there were prizes throughout. Each and every comment entered visitors into a drawing for adorable gift boxes filled with flower seeds and garden to-do note pads. I cross-market between my garden blog and romance writing so garden gifts abound!
What I learned:
Facebook parties are fun! Really fun when everyone is on and commenting in real-time, though I had to continually refresh my page to keep current. Unlike Twitter, Facebook doesn’t do that for me. And I learned how to make a bunch of new FB symbol/icons to add in my comments! Link is here.
Readers loved the trivia questions and enjoyed the camaraderie with other readers. They also seemed to enjoy the giveaway prizes!
I also learned that a lot of people don’t understand what a “facebook party” is quite yet. Several people thought it was going to be held at a physical location, others weren’t sure how to interact. Perhaps I’m more technologically advanced than my kids think! Anyway, a better, more thorough explanation up front may have helped with that angle.
So that’s my story. I’d love to hear about your experiences, both writers and readers alike! What makes a great online party? Facebook? Twitter? Something new and improved?
Creative people are a different breed. And I should know. I “is” one. We don’t think like regular people. Our brains don’t operate in linear fashion. Well, I take that back. Creative engineer types make think in linear paths, but I’m no engineer. I’m a writer. An artist.
From creative stories to pencil drawings, I’ve always had a penchant to craft, create, make up stories… Over the years, I’ve won awards, earned recognition for my efforts. I won the fourth grade writing contest. The high school drawing contest. It’s a natural gift that has come in handy–one I’m especially reminded of after a few hours spent reminiscing with my brothers .
“Remember the time we told mom…”
Yes, well, it’s been fun, nurturing this creative streak of mine. And I love nurturing it full-time as an author. While not always grammatically correct, my voice is my own. It’s unique. Like a finger print, you can read my work and hear me tell you a story, one I hope you’ll enjoy. But as a self-pubbed author, I find my talents can be “stretched” at times. Currently at work on creating the covers for my 2013 Ladd Springs series, I find honing the vision can be difficult to translate into words.
And when I say I’m creating the covers, mind you, I speak loosely. Very loosely. I have one of the most fabulous artists designing the covers for me–namely one Jax Cassidy–and she’s simply amazing. She has a great eye for covers, for color. She sees things I don’t, comes up with ideas I’d never even think of, yet she allows me input into the process.
Therein lies the problem–or thrill! Depending on which side of the conversation you’re operating from. Like anything else, cover design is a process. It’s small changes that make a big difference. It’s an overall vision that must run consistent with your story, your characters, your fictional world. Your readers must be able to relate.
For me, it’s a fun process. Until my perfectionist brain cells kick in and my real life brain cells have to shut them down, that is. Then, like the tiny weeds in my garden, I have to ignore the impulse to say, “One more 1/16th of an inch and by George, I think we’ve got it!”
Sort of like when friends visit my 400 ft. X 100 ft. garden. They don’t notice the teeny-weeny weeds. They’re taking in the entire effect, the overall beauty and grandeur. Aesthetically pleasing, the leaves and fruits and vegetables appeal to a part of their brain that doesn’t even know what a weed is–can’t even compute the image.
There are days in writing and cover design when it behooves me to remember this little fact of life. Give readers the “pop” of imagery, the overall emotions of your story–and then trust them. They’ll open the book, move past the cover and lose themselves between the pages.
Anyone else know what I mean? For a preview of my upcoming Ladd Springs series, go here.
This weekend, my daughter and I were working a row of weeds. Actually several rows, but since I promised her we’d only tackle one row a day—the trick to securing her continued return—I was doing the bulk of the weeding. Which I don’t mind. Surrounded by sprouts and vegetables in varying stages of growth, I feel productive, the weather is sunny, warm with a light breeze. Life is good!
When she rose from her aisle of hay and exclaimed, “All done!”
I had to smile. The relief on her face was too funny—and predictable—and I couldn’t help but tease, “Already? Wow.” I surveyed her handiwork. “You’re amazing. How about another?”
“Mom,” she replied sternly, slapping a dirt-covered hand to her hip. “You promised. Only one row.”
“I know, I know.” I chuckled. “It was worth a try.” Dismissed, she trotted off to find her brother.
Only to return an hour later. Kneeling down in the row beside me, she began to pick at weeds. I glanced at her, surprised. “What are you doing? I thought you were finished weeding.”
“I am,” she reassured. “But I’m bored, so I thought I’d come help.”
I sat back on my heels. “You’re always welcome to help. In fact,” I added, “I like being in the garden with you, just us girls.”
This drew a smile from her, but she maintained focus on her task. I resumed my leaf pluck expedition down a line of lettuce and together we worked in silence until she murmured, “Mom, you are Superwoman.”
My heart sung! My spirit soared! “Superwoman?” I tried to conceal my glee. I mean—could it be true? She finally noticed?
Warmed by the sentiment, I smiled, flattered she noticed. It’s because I’ve devoted my life to you, isn’t it? I’ve signed on to be Girl Scout leader, always offer to be school volunteer, ever the reliable athletics chaperone…
Basking in the glow of my daughter’s admiration, my imagination frittered about, enthralled with a sense of validation, honor, and the glorious reward for my years of dedication.
That’s when I lost all sense of good judgment and replied, “That’s so sweet. But you know, baby doll, I’m not Superwoman.” I didn’t want her to invest any time in unrealistic goals and expectations for herself, her future, so I told her, “I’m just a woman, doing what she loves.”
Her expression twisted in confusion. “You love weeding?”
I pulled back. “Weeding?” Now we were both confused. “No…” My hands fell to my sides, landing in dirt. “I was referring to your Superwoman comment.”
“Why did you say I was Superwoman?” I asked, but could feel the hoe slicing through the air, its blade headed straight for me.
“Cause you have endurance! I don’t know any mom who could weed as much as you!”
Ouch. Bubble-filled fantasies popped. My ego deflated. There’s a kick in the rear.
But as those innocent green eyes held me in their gaze, I knew I couldn’t be upset. I had to take her at her word—the one she meant to be a compliment. And while it may not have been the one I had hoped, it was her own, and wholly genuine. Heartfelt.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Rising from my knees, I walked over and placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Thank you, baby. I appreciate that, and it was kind of you to say.”
She beamed, pleased with herself. I grinned, heartened by her self-contentment. Both of us were satisfied with the moment, the kind which may prove scarce as she grows into adolescence.
So me, I took my lump of sugar when and where I could—as any smart mother would. One never knows when the next batch will arrive!
After all, it’s the life called mother. Have any moments to share?