Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A WOW Experience at the SC Book Festival

Hi, everybody.

I'm late posting this week because I was late getting back from the South Carolina Book Festival, and believe me, it was a festival. And they celebrated writers and books. Of course I've been a lifelong book lover, so it was the perfect place for me. Everybody associated with the festival was extra friendly and helpful. A special thanks to Mary who managed to make every writer feel like the only writer there. It was such fun.

My daughter, Tarasa, went with me as my guest and we both enjoyed as many of the presentations as we could attend. Sometimes we had to choose between two or three panels of authors that we would have enjoyed hearing. We only made one bad decision. If we'd been closer to the door we'd have bailed on that presentation. It just wasn't our thing. I kept having to pinch myself to keep from dozing off and Tarasa read her Festival program.

The headliner was Harlan Coben who writes bestselling thrillers. He was presenting at the same time I was on Sunday afternoon. I was on a panel about the importance of place across genres, and to be honest, I didn't think anybody would come listen to us. But they did. Not as many as went to see Harlan Coben, but enough that we had a good session. Tarasa went to Harlan Coben's presentation. She can hear me any time. She said it was great and that Mr. Coben was very personable and nice to everyone who wanted to talk to him. I guess that shouldn't be a surprise. Writers are just people. Some of us are friendly. Some of us are surly. Some of us like talking to people. Some of us don't. I love talking to people myself. Especially people who like to read just as much as I do. Maybe instead of the weather we should all talk about books.

So the Festival was definitely a WOW experience for me. My daughter and I had been talking about that sort of experience before we went to Columbia. She works at a hospital and they had had a meeting on how to make a visit to their hospital a WOW experience. Now, I'm not sure I could have a WOW experience at a hospital. Not a place many of us want to go. But a Book Festival is a different matter. Just going in a place with that many books and authors is a WOW time right away. And then to have everybody be so nice and friendly, well, it just got better and better.

My newly re-designed website is up and running. We're still tweaking a few things here and there and fixing typos, etc. Susie, my webmaster, did a great job and I really appreciate her help. I was overwhelmed thinking about the time I'd have to put in to learn how to do some of that stuff. So if you've seen it, let me know what you think either here or by contacting me from the website.

One last thing before I wear out your reading patience. I heard on the radio this morning that somebody has done a study and find that people who count their blessings at least once a week live longer and happier lives. That was one of the great things about the festival at Columbia. I'd been sort of down with my writing. No real reason. Just a worried "parent" over a "child" she wasn't sure was doing well. I still don't know about that, but talking with other writers and booksellers seemed to get me back on focus and counting my blessings. Then when I got home there were a few e-mails from readers who had enjoyed my book. Definitely a blessing.

So today I plan to live longer by counting my blessings. A great family. A loving and praying church family. Beautiful grandchildren. A new book out on the store shelves. Readers who are also friends. A blog to chat on. A new website. I could go on and on, but I'll save some for next time. May you have such an abundance of blessings that it would take you a week to count even half of them.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Book Readings and Signings

My booksigning/reading went well on Friday night. Thanks be to the Lord for family and friends who are ready to support a writer in need. There is absolutely nothing sadder than an author at a booksigning when nobody shows up to get a book signed. Actually I haven't done many booksignings like that. I did have one signing back years ago when my first books were out. My aunts and mother came. I can't remember whether they bought any books. The rest of the time I just chatted with any customer who got within shouting distance. Most of them had no idea why I was sitting there behind a stack of books. The large posters you see at many booksignings are there for a reason. "See me. I wrote this book! Honest!"

I didn't have to do that kind of shouting Friday night. Everybody was very gracious and kind and they even bought most of my books. So it was fun. I love talking to people and I like having book discussions. A reporter from the Anderson News was there. I've been trying to talk up a human interest article about how I used what I remembered about Lawrenceburg in the sixties for Hollyhill in my books and how I zeroed in on the importance of a community newspaper by having Jocie's dad be the editor, but I don't think that idea went over with the reporter. (I'll bet Jocie would have written it up the way I wanted.) So we'll just have to wait and see what he writes. I'm hoping I didn't say anything too stupid. It's amazing the stupid things a person can say when a reporter is listening. It may not sound all that bad at the time you're saying it, but after it's written down and and printed in the newspaper for everybody to read, the words spin around and sound way different. Any of you ever had that experience?

Next weekend I'm off to South Carolina to the Book Festival in Columbia. My daughter, Tarasa, is going along and we're making it a several day trip to celebrate our birthdays. We both hit one of those years that have zeroes last year so we have to do something to celebrate that kind of milestone. The book festival promises to be interesting. I'm on two panels. One about Faith in Fiction and the other about the importance of place across genres. I'm trying to think wise thoughts, but maybe I'll just listen to everybody else's wisdom. I'm looking forward to sitting in on some of the other panel sessions and hearing what those authors have to say. If you're in the area, come check the festival out. My panels are at 10 a.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Then I'll be signing my books for about an hour directly following the panels.

Also watch for my new and improved website in the near future. And let me know what you think.

Next week, I won't be posting until Tuesday since I'll be on the way home from S.C. on Monday. Hope all of you have a good week and that you notice all those ordinary everyday blessings that make life so good. We can even do some counting. I can count my booksigning and my friends and family being there. That's not an everyday kind of blessing, but it's definitely a blessing. For the everyday type, I'd say the smiles of my Christian brothers and sisters at church this morning. My pastor's good sermon. Visiting my mom and sister. Walking with my dog, Dub, and my neighbor dogs, Roxie and Baby. They love to walk with me. Talking to my daughter on the phone. Finishing my page edits way before schedule. Watching basketball. And so many more. Tell me some of yours. And that will be a blessing too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

This is one of my favorite holidays. For one thing, it's a great excuse to eat chocolate and I've had a sweet tooth ever since I can remember. But what I really like about the day is that it celebrates love. Romantic love for sure, but that's not all. We recognize love in all its forms. We get Valentines for our kids and moms and dads and grandkids and friends. When I used to be a Room Mother for my kids when they were in grade school, I liked the Valentine party best because all the kids got Valentines. You didn't have to be quicker than everybody else to get Easter eggs. You didn't have to worry about who drew your name at Christmas. You didn't have to dress up like a monster at Halloween. You just got to collect a Valentine from every kid in the class and have fun feeling loved and popular. Then you got to eat cupcakes and candy hearts with "Be Mine" stamped on them.

Love is a good thing to celebrate. One of the first verses a child learns in Sunday School is "God is love." One of the favorite chapters in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13 -- all about love. We sing about love. "Yes, Jesus loves me." He loves you too. Let us be a reflection of that love on this Valentine's Day and throughout the year.

So here's wishing that you are surrounded and uplifted and overpowered with much love today and every day.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Launching Summer of Joy and Beginning a New Book

We've been having some real Kentucky weather. Last week up to almost 70 degrees and then tornadoes and storms. This week windchills down to zero. It's chilly out there. When I walked yesterday, I had to pull out my big coat. The one that's so fluffy and thick that my arms stand out from my sides. I don't pull out that heavy armor very often. I'm more the President Kennedy style. You remember how he never wore a coat? Of course a Secret Service man might have been holding his coat out of sight of the cameras.

My book launch is this Friday night. Might not be too good of scheduling since Thursday is Valentine's Day, but maybe everybody will want a fun love story/family drama to give to his or her special someone. Summer of Joy is a fun story. I wanted it to vibrate with the joy of living. I guess you as readers will have to let me know if I was successful on that one.

I'm beginning on a new book. At last. I kept trying to get myself to do other stuff. Publicity type stuff. Store visits. Who knows what? But I have to be writing. I can surely clean out the closets another day. Surely. Of course I've been saying that for a few months now. One of these days I'm going to open the door to the closet and be buried under that pile of stuff I should have already carried off to Goodwill or the landfill. But I've got to write. I don't have the same impulse about cleaning.

Next week I'll be off to South Carolina to a book festival down there. I'm going to be on a couple of panels talking about Faith in Fiction and The Importance of Place across Genres. Both of those promise to be interesting and there will be some great writers on the panels with me. I'll no doubt learn a lot. If you live in the area, check out all the fun on the South Carolina Book Festival website and come out and enjoy. They've got some big name writers coming to share their expertise and sign books. My daughter will be attending with me. She loves to read so she should have fun at the festival.

My youngest son, Daniel, had a birthday last Friday. There is no way my baby can be that old. I usually feel as if I'm about that age. I just don't see how he caught up with me so quickly. ;) But he's a great person, a wonderful dad and husband and son, and I'm very proud of him. He wanted Snickerdoodles. Sort of an unusual birthday cake (cookies), but he and the kids enjoyed them, and we managed to stick on a few candles.

Hope all you guys have a loving Valentine's Day. Remember God loves you and so do a lot of your Christian brothers and sisters. And writers like me always love readers like you. Ann

Monday, February 4, 2008

Blowing your own trumpet

Well, it's Monday again. Time to post some of my journal thoughts. Because I've been thinking about how I need to learn more about publicity and how to connect with readers, I'll start out today with this little poem I came across in a quote book a few months back. It's an old one by Sir William S. Gilbert.

If you wish in this world to advance
Your merits you're bound to enhance.
You must stir it and stump it
And blow your own trumpet
Or trust me you haven't a chance.

I've been trying to take that advice and do some stir and stumping, but to be honest I never could get much of a toot out of a trumpet. All my children played trumpet in their high school band although my daughter switched to flag girl at the first opportunity. But my boys liked the trumpet. They tried to teach me how to blow it, but I was a slow learner. Or maybe an uninterested one. Now my grandkids like blowing the conch shell I have that belonged to my great grandfather. I think they used it back when to call the hounds. Some of the grandkids can make the thing honk and call the hounds, but mostly they just make my dog howl.

Still it is true that sometimes a writer has to get out there and try to get noticed by readers. There are so many good books being published these days and so many other things to entice readers away from books. American Idol. The Super Bowl. (Wasn't that fun? I was sort of rooting for the Patriots, but I like Eli Manning too and when he got away from the tacklers and threw that impossible pass down the field with a minute or so to go, it just looked as if it was his time to win.) But in spite of the many other things we can do to entertain ourselves, luckily a lot of people still enjoy picking up a book and being transported into another world. I know I do.

But back to stirring and stumping. My interview was posted on Novel Journey on Saturday. It was fun to answer the questions and even more fun to explore their site and read some of the other writers' interviews. Made me want to go back and do some of my answers over. But I'm just me and I can't be anybody else. I don't really want to be anybody else. The Lord made me the way I am. Not that He doesn't want me to do some improving. We all can do some improving each and every day. And I want to improve as a writer and part of that improvement is figuring out how to connect with more readers so the publishers will want to keep publishing my books.

I appreciate the comment, Rose, on my last post. Maybe I will leave the name the way it is for now. I'm still thinking of doing another blog, but then I might not be doing anything but blogging. And I'm ready to get going on a new story. I had to do the editing and such and then I wasn't sure which direction to head. I thought I might even clean out some closets, but in the winter time? That just doesn't seem right. What's true, is that if I'm not writing something, I'm an unhappy camper who doesn't care if the closets are cleaned out or not. How about you? Are all your closets neat with no clothes in them that you haven't worn for five years? Or do you have a vintage collection of various styles and sizes, not to mention a few shoes that you will never wear again?

My new website may be up by next week. I'm anxious to see how much better it will be now that I have somebody who knows what she's doing working on it instead of me. Till next time. May you be blessed and feel loved. Always.