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?
This was an exercise from last year, done on my own blog and many others. You may have seen it. And while I’m not a huge proponent of recycling, this one has been on my mind again since Kim posted about her kids’ summer plans. We all come from a story.
My parents old house across the street from me is for sale, and they’ve cut down the big swing tree in the backyard. The one with the chains that grew into the tree. It’s all in pieces at the street, and I’ve stared at them for the past two days. The weeds are growing with little flowers everywhere and I keep thinking my mother would be so embarrassed to have her yard look so unkempt.
This is an amazing thing to do for yourself, and the template is at the bottom for you to give it a shot. Here’s a little piece of me.
Where I’m From…
I am from Coca-Cola and orange soda straight from the bottle, and drinking from the garden hose on a hot day. I’m from leaving the house in the morning and staying gone till dusk, till Daddy’s voice called me home. From handlebar pumping, treehouses, double-daring, and carving my own rubberband gun from a stick. I’m from no cell phones, computers, VCR’s, or cable TV. From black rotary phones wired to the wall, Hee Haw and Disney on Sunday evenings, and three-cent green apple bubble gum.
I am from the only 2-story house on the block, that was really just a converted attic. I’m from duct work made from a Dentler’s Chip can and wires held together with duct tape. From the upstairs room with the shower that never was. From a carpenter’s house, where the smell of sawdust and grease will always make me close my eyes and see my father’s hands, and the sound of an arm saw makes me long for hot summers in a dusty garage.
I am from the magnolia and dogwood trees that flower the sky of Southeast Texas, and the pinks, purples and whites of azaleas. From deep green St Augustine grass and verbenia bushes with millions of red berries that will kill you if you eat them…or so we were told.
I am from homemade ice cream cranked in a bucket while someone sat on the lid, watermelon seed wars, camping on the Neches River bank in East Texas where the stars were many, waterskiing, and playing Chinese Checkers and Yahtzee in a homemade wooden and felt box made by my dad. I’m from Duchess, Prince, Duke, Honey, and Brandi, all beloved dogs buried in the backyard at a house I can only see from across the street now. I’m from unlocked doors and just walking in, and sitting on the front porch drinking coffee.
I’m from Lovelace eyebrows and Milburn smiles, Nanny’s drama and Maw Maw’s sweet silliness. From craziness everyone talks about, and skeletons no one talks about. From blue eyes and curly hair and two big brothers. From chain smokers and staying in a log cabin on vacation for me when Mom really wanted a hotel.
From y’all, fixin to, ice box, and because I said so. From pulling weeds at the roots and dusting every single nick-nack on weekends.
I am from Lutherans and Baptists, and sitting on the right side because no one had ever sat on the left.
I’m from Port Neches and Copperas Cove and Indian arrow heads on a hill. From lemon meringue pie and sand tarts at Christmas, homemade soup and shrimp gumbo, Steen’s Cane Syrup and Daddy’s special milk hash on toast to give Mom a break. I’m from ritz crackers with peanut butter, frozen bananas, and midnight snacks of sugar bread with hot milk.
I am from a homemade treasure trunk full of black and white pictures, a closet full of cards and letters and macaroni projects from children now grown, and the box of handmade Christmas ribbons used every year because giving them back was the rule. From overcoming economic hardship, union strikes, divorce, illness, and any adversity. I’m from June and Buddy, who I miss so much it aches.
The original link is found here.
The WHERE I’M FROM Template
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.
I am from the _______ (home description… adjective, adjective, sensory detail).
I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).
I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).
From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).
I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.
I’m from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).
From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).
I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).
Do you ever wish you could look off in your past or even off in other people’s lives and be someone else, or live in their shoes? Even if just a day…or a week?
I ask this because while I’m still writing on my current novel, the “new idea” gremlins are beginning their game with me. I’m playing with a novella idea of a woman who goes on vacation and due to circumstances falling in her lap, pretends to be someone else for a weekend, someone she’s always envied.
Have you ever thought about that? If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?
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?