Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brownies, Blog Tours, Book Parties & More

Okay, so I took my camera to my Hometown Book Launch today and forgot to take even one picture to share with you, my cyber friends and neighbors. I could have at least taken a picture of those brownies I baked for my reading friends. But I was too busy talking to think about pictures. So you get a picture of Spring instead. Soon we'll have flowers like this blooming in the warm sunshine. March is mere days away and the flowering time of the year won't be far behind.

It was fun having a book party with my hometown friends to celebrate Words Spoken True. I started doing these hometown book events when The Scent of Lilacs was published in 2005. Since that book's setting was my hometown back in the 1960s, I thought the least I could do was have an event for my local readers and friends. We might not be able to actually go back to the Sixties to party, but we could gather in the antique portion of the public library and celebrate me having the book published and Lawrenceburg getting a little book time. Of course, I did change the name of the town to Hollyhill. As I tell my Lawrenceburg friends, the Lawrenceburg series just doesn't have that pleasant roll off your tongue sound that Hollyhill has. 

Once I started the book party tradition, I enjoyed it too much to stop. Before The Scent of Lilacs was published, I wrote for several years without any publishing success, so now I want to celebrate every time I'm blessed with a new novel out for readers. Plus, it's just plain fun talking about my books with friends. Where I used to quake and tremble at the thought of standing up in front of a group of people and talking, now I love it. I feel as if we're having a conversation. I do end up doing most of the talking, but I'm always ready to pass the microphone off if a friend has something to say.

I had some new friends show up today and some of my regulars, who have shown up for nearly every book party I've had, didn't make it. Maybe they've heard my story enough. Words Spoken True did have an interesting path, and a long one, to publication. Maybe that can be next week's post.

As I told you last week, Words Spoken True has been flying around the internet gathering reviews like my little cockerspaniel used to go out on the farm and pick up sticktights. The reviews have flooded in. Most of them have been positive. Some have withheld a few stars.

Here's one of the nice ones. I have a couple of reasons to like this one. First she says nice things about my book. Second, in these days when authors are often pushed to establish their brands, she doesn't mind my books being different. I've always wanted my brand to be "storytelling."

Ms. Gabhart has seemed to carve a nitch for herself in writing
 deeply moving and emotional stories that touch on faith and on
 your soul. WORDS SPOKEN TRUE is a beautiful and enlightening
 read that I highly recommend.”
                     —Marilyn Rondeau, CK2s Kwips & Kritiques

So at my book party today, we ate the brownies. We talked books.
I enjoyed seeing friends and family.  I looked over some of the 
reviews coming in when I got home. I wrote this blog post. I 
counted my blessings and you're in the number. 
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hometown Book Fun

"Unless their use by readers bring them to life, books are indeed dead things." ~Lawrence Clark Powell

I always thank my readers in my acknowledgements because, as Powell says above, a book has to have a reader to come to life. Fiction writers and readers form a unique partnership of imagination. The writer comes up with the characters and lets their adventures flow through his or her fingers to form a story with words. Those words become a book and then the reader comes into the game. The reader absorbs the words and the characters spring to life inside his or her mind and begin living out their stories.

Part of a writer's job these days is not only to write the story and get it to the store shelf or wherever, but today the writer has to connect with potential readers and not simply wait for readers to find her. There are many ways for this to happen. One way is to write such a great story that everybody starts talking about it and this friend tells that friend and soon the books are getting read in easy chairs at home, in buses on the way to work, in airplanes and trains, and on beaches in the sun.

I suppose that's the way we'd all choose if we could. But at times word of mouth needs a jump start. Sometimes the author has to let people know the book is ready to fit in their hands. So writers show up at bookstores to do book signings. Writers become speakers at club meetings and other events. They might stop in at radio shows or sometimes show up on television. Whatever it takes to get readers to notice our books.

So the month a book comes out, writers like me spend a lot of time talking about the book. We hop around the internet visiting blogging friends. We give away copies as enticement to read about the book and write reviews. Some of us even come up with other contests to tie in with our books to attempt to get readers to notice our books. I have the Louisville themed contest accessed from my website or you can check out the newspaper themed one on Fresh Fiction's Contest Page. Both contests end at midnight EST on the 29th, Leap Year day, so if you haven't yet entered, you still have time. Here's the second prize of my Louisville contest - a Louisville Stoneware cup with a city skyline decoration. The 1855 Louisville skyline is behind Adriane on the cover of Words Spoke True.

But the events to get my books in front of the reading public that I enjoy the most are the ones where I get to talk to my reading friends the way I'm doing in the picture above. This is at my first book launch for Words Spoken True at the Corinth Christian Book Store in Frankfort a couple of weeks ago. Sunday I'm going to celebrate with my hometown friends at the local library. I've been doing an event like this for every book since The Scent of Lilacs was published in 2005 and it's one I look forward to each time I have a new release.

Some of my reading friends have been very faithful, coming back to hear me talk about writing again and again. Others are new reading friends who come out to meet one of their local writers. We have a bunch of writers in our area, but many of them are originally from somewhere else. I'm a hometown girl that many of my readers here have known for years and years. I'm one of them and it's fun to get together and talk books.

I'll also be taking my show on the road to the Joseph-Beth Book Sellers in Lexington, KY on Thursday, March 15. There I'll be sharing the book stage with writing friend, Virginia Smith.

But then at the end of the promotional whirlwind month, things will settle down again and I'll be back at my desk trying to let another character's story spill out of my head to make a new book.

Thanks for reading. And if you have a minute, let me know what influences your decision to pick up a book. Reviews? Free book promotions? Book fairs? Book parties? A friend's recommendation? Just the look of the book? What wins your attention? 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Words Spoken True Touring the Net

This is the header of one of the blogs, The Owl Bookmark Blog, that just posted a review of my new release, Words Spoken True. I thought it was such a great picture that I wanted to share it with you. I'm hoping Siobian won't mind since I'm giving her credit. But look at the fun exploding out of the open books there. Isn't that neat? That's exactly what a book can do for a reader - launch him or her into an adventure or take the reader off for a ride into a different world or life. 

I really appreciate book reviewers. Of course, I want them to give my book lots of stars or ribbons or owls or whatever, but whether they do or not, I still appreciate them reading my books and sharing their opinions with friends and readers. Right now I'm seeing a lot of those opinions. You see, while I'm sitting at home here at my desk trying to dig out words for a new story, Adriane and Blake, my main characters in Words Spoken True are running around all over the internet, stopping in at first one blog and then another. I have to confess, they're not at all bothered by anything the reviewers say, and I try to have the same attitude. They had their story to live, and I had their story to tell. I told it the best I could and now I can only hope readers will want to share the adventure. 

It's interesting reading all the different reviews. One person will like one thing about the story. Another will mention something totally different. In this story, most of the reviewers mention the romance. Words Spoken True is a very romantic story. That's one of the things about the story I've been talking about on some of the blogs that I've actually been going along to visit with Adriane and Blake. I've got a few more coming up in the next few weeks and I'll be giving away a book at most of them to one of the people who comments. The next one up is a guest post on Lyn Cote's Strong Women, Brave Stories on Tuesday. I was originally scheduled to be on Karen Lange's Write Now blog tomorrow, but that has been delayed a week or so. That's one of the neat things about touring the internet. It's so fluid. You can visit anytime and your book can take off for a visit without you.

I appreciate the reviewers who invited my book over this week and then spent time getting to know my characters. I thank all of you for reading my blog too. It's so good to have reading friends. Don't forget about the giveaways you can sign up for. One from my website and another from Fresh Fiction's Contest Page.

Now back to the new story. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Silly Rhymes and Romantic Lines

Do you remember these kind of sayings? "Yours til' Ivory soup sinks." Do you remember Ivory soap? It's still on the store shelves and it still floats.  So whoever wrote that promise in my little autograph book when I was a kid must still be mine. The autograph books were sort of a fad when I was in grade school. A lot of us girls carried them around and begged people to write something in them. Like a love poem. "Roses are red. Violets are blue. Angels in heaven know I love you." Or shorter little promises like the one about Ivory soap. Another one I remember is "yours till the ocean runs dry." There were more. Some sweet. Some silly. 

Not too long ago, I came across my old autograph book from when I was maybe ten. If you're old enough, you probably have one stuck away somewhere too. Boy, did mine bring back memories as the youthful handwritten entries stabbed me with their innocence. 

I was going to take a picture of it for this post tonight, but naturally, I put it up somewhere for safe keeping. Now it's safe from me since I have no idea where that safe place is. But Valentine's Day started  me thinking about those cute verses. " When you get old and cannot see, put on your specs and think of me."   " 2 good 2 B 4gotten."  "Yours until elephants roost in trees." 

Hope you got a card with a verse that made you smile and feel loved. Or maybe you got candy and flowers. Or just a treasured call from a friend or family member. Most of the restaurants were hopping last night as couples, friends, and families enjoyed a night out. Darrell and I went to a local Mexican restaurant where they had taped fresh roses and balloons to the ends of the booths. At the end of the meal, they presented us with a free ice cream dessert and two spoons. Not exactly a candlelight dinner experience, but fun. So many ways to celebrate love. 

One of those ways is by writing blog posts and giving away stuff. I'm visiting Sunnybank Meanderings today talking about "Romances to Remember." And I'll be giving away an autographed copy of Words Spoken True to one of Caroline's commenters. Revell Books and I are also sponsoring a Louisville themed giveaway because that's the setting for Words Spoken True. Here's a picture of the second place prize in that giveaway open for entries all month on my website and here on my blog too. Just click on the book's cover to go to the entry form. I'm also doing a newspaper related giveaway at Fresh Fiction. A newspaper book bag and some books. So lots of ways to win with several more guest posts to come in the next few weeks.

It's fun visiting other blogs to talk about Words Spoken True. Since it's Valentine's month and my book is definitely romantic, I've been talking about romance. It's not easy to come up with a fresh post each time I visit a new place to talk about my book. The story in my book doesn't change. I still only have my two main characters to talk about. The same background, the same historical happenings. And I can't tell the whole story. I want you readers to have to read that for yourselves. 

Me and you - we're a partnership. I write the stories out of my imagination, but it takes your imagination while reading the stories to truly make the story circle. Thanks for reading tonight and making our friendship circle. So glad to have you as reading friends." Yours until Niagara falls."   Maybe I'll have an autograph book two entry on Wednesday. Lots of great info out there on the net about those old autograph books.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Day for Romance

Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination. (Voltaire)
Happy Valentine's Day! What makes Valentine's Day good for you? Candy? Roses? A card with loving words? Maybe sugar candy hearts with "Be Mine" on them. Seems I remember hearing that they had jazzed up and modernized the Valentine messages on candy hearts. So now the sayings on the hearts are probably all shortened tweet-like love messages.

I like Valentine's Day. It's such fun to reach out to people with a smile and a love message. Romance can certainly be a writer's best friend. Romance stories have been popular since day one. Can't you just see Adam searching the Garden of Eden for the perfect flower to give Eve? And he surely had a fine choice before the serpent came along and started the ball rolling to mess up things. You can find lots of romance stories in the Bible. Jacob working fourteen years for Rachel. David falling into sin because he desired Bathsheba. Esther convincing the king to save her people.

We're wired for romance. Scientist are working on proving what we've always known. Romantic love, when it's right, makes us feel good. Releases all those good chemicals in our brain so that when people say we're on Cloud 9, they're not far wrong. We are sort of floating on air.

We like to read about people falling in love too and watch movies with great love stories. Romance sells books. Romance sells nearly everything. Gone with the Wind tells a dramatic Civil War story, but what do we remember? Rhett and Scarlett. We love a good love story. Some can be tragic. Think Titanic. Some happy ever after. Think Cinderella. And everything in between.

We yearn for romance in our own lives. We live it vicariously in the books we read and the movies we watch. So, most of us are eager to celebrate a day of romance on Valentine's Day. A lot of writers seem to be eager to celebrate romance every day of the year in the stories they write.

The last couple of weeks, I've been talking a lot about romance because my new book, Words Spoken True, is the most romantic story I've written for a while. But my story is hardly like D.H. Lawrence is describing romances here. "And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything as you like it, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose, and it's always daisy-time."  

Always daisy-time. Not quite in most of my books. My characters have all kinds of obstacles to true love. They do get wet. They wave off the bugs and sometimes can't find a daisy anywhere. But their story gets told and now Adriane's and Blake's story is getting read.

Thank you so much for reading. And I wish you a Valentine's Day where all is smooth as a soft serve ice cream cone. Maybe we can keep it from melting too fast and dripping down our arm. A day to celebrate love shouldn't melt, but go on and on.

Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Okay, so it's not Wednesday. It's not even Thursday, the day I usually remember I forgot to post on One Writer's Journal on Wednesday. But I've got excuses. A good writer should always be able to come up with excuses. Or reasons. So, I'm blaming those grandkids who were here a few days ago. By the time they left, I didn't know what day it was. Since I wasn't brave enough or energetic enough (the truth is I'm not young enough) to take the four kids to church, I felt like I was missing Sunday and who knew what day it was after that? If you don't have Sunday, the days just melt together. So you might say I was discombobalated.  Now there's a word that sounds just like it should. I looked up its meaning on line to be sure I wasn't discombobalated about that too.

Discombobalated or discombobalation is a word used to say that something confuses you or a word used to say that someone is a bit mental in their head. can be used as an insult!!

Don't you just love words? Without them, storytellers would be in a fix. Especially if they weren't good at being a mime or drawing pictures. Words are what I need. I've had a romance with them ever since I was a kid. Words spread across book pages carried me away on adventures, caused me to fall in love over and over, let me chase along behind people saving the world from the bad guys, and made me laugh and cry. Words were my favorite games in Scrabble and crossword puzzles and playing hangman with my sister on our chalkboards. I just did a guest post about having a romance with words on Romcon. If you want to check out the post and leave a comment there, you'll have a chance to win a copy of my new book. I'm also visiting on Katt Scribbles this week where you can leave a comment for a chance to win a book. Lots of those opportunities this month. Along with my own giveaway at my website.

It's always a kind of gift when the very right word comes to me from seemingly nowhere when I'm writing. Sometimes it will be a word I would never think to say in my own conversations, but somewhere in the murky depths of my writer's mind it's been buried, waiting for the right scene, the right character, to rise to the surface, waving its hand in the air, screaming, "Here, I am. Use me." A lot of the time, I'll pull out my ancient dictionary, not the on-line kind, but the open it up and flip through the pages kind, to make sure the word means what I think it does. Discombobalated was not in my dictionary. I had to go on-line to find it. Lots of new words have gained entrance into the book of words since my old dictionary was printed years ago. 

But it was the right word. I was discombobalated. It could be that I am discombobalated. But I do know it's Friday. I do know that I'm supposed to have my first book launch for Words Spoken True tonight at the Corinth Book Store in Frankfort. I do know that the weathermen are talking about a winter storm advisory starting at two o'clock this afternoon. It hasn't snowed but a skiff all year. The photo above is the bit of snow we had a couple of days ago. Not even enough to call off schools. By noon tomorrow, we're supposed to get an inch, maybe two, but the weather guys are making it sound like we're going to have a blizzard. A weatherman misses snow, I'm thinking. It would have to be the day I was hoping to meet and greet some readers that the snow would start falling. Oh well, maybe all of you have four-wheel drives and you want to test them out. If so, come on down to see me. I'm sharing the time with another local writer, Jennifer Johnson, with her book, Shoebox Surprise

Thanks for your patience with this discombobalated writer. I appreciate you dropping by. What words do you like? Which ones bring a feeling or thought to mind for you just from hearing it? Joy. Boisterous. Whisper.  Readers! That's one of my favorite words. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Wheels Turn

It's been a grandkid weekend that started on Thursday night and won't end till late tomorrow night. A couple of the kids are a little homesick. The other two aren't showing much signs of wishing for home. But for sure, I'm one tired grandmom. The twins are sweet as they can be, but two three-year-olds keep you on the move. Especially when they know how to open the doors. I've had to keep my ears tuned for the sound of knobs turning. Barefoot right out in the rain - no problem for them. They love it outside. And two of them like the dogs while the other two are just as happy to keep the dogs back. Of course, the twin who likes the dogs is the one who's allergic to them. Naturally. The six-year-old asked me if she could have Oscar - my big black dog. I said no way. Her dad would have said no way even faster - for different reasons.

Both the boys like to play with cars, but the one in the picture above likes watching those wheels roll. Just the same as his dad did at that age. His dad would lie on the floor and roll his cars or lie on the ground - whichever and watch those wheels the same way. So it's sort of like going back in time to see this little fellow do the same. The other twin likes cars too, but instead of rolling it, he's burying it in the rocks. That's the thing about kids. They're all different. Even when one echoes the past, he's still different - his own unique person. 

That's one of the fun things about having several grandkids - seeing how they are different personalities. Having several makes for a grandma who needs an extra pair of hands. Maybe two extra pairs of hands. I did have help this weekend with my daughter here for several days and then grandpa came home from recording a new project with his gospel group. And he's helping guard the door and has had a lap full of grandkids most of the day. 

It's also been my book release weekend, but I haven't had much time to think about that. I have had a couple of guest blog posts go live.  In the one yesterday, I talk about my romance with words. It's at RomCon and if you want to go make a comment over there, you'll have another chance to win an autographed book along with a box of Bauer's Modjeska candy. So far, your odds of winning would be good. I've got several blog appearances this month. So it's a good thing I like words and putting them together. 

Thanks for reading. Got to turn in and get ready for another full day of grandmothering. The eight year old told me earlier that I had to be nice to them because I was their grandmother. That was right after I made the two girls sit in time out.  Oh, to be told to sit on the couch and do nothing for five minutes. It's all in the perspective, isn't it?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Opening Day for Words Spoken True

Today is release day for Words Spoken True. It's out there in the world of readers now. The cover is getting great remarks and now to see if what's between the front and back covers will make you readers happy. I feel like a mother bird watching her baby bird fly off into the great beyond. Well, I really doubt a mother bird worries too much about the baby birds after they fly away. She's too busy repairing the nest for the next eggs. So maybe I should be like the mother bird - not  think about the book flying out there to readers, but start building the new book. Actually I am doing that. Building one word on top of another and feeding my characters with new ideas and situations to see if they won't develop wings that will carry them out to readers someday too. 

But a release day is too rare not to celebrate a little. Some writers get more books out to market in a year than I do, but I'm thinking they are probably happy about every one. I'll have two this year. Two is good. Two is great! One is good. And there have been plenty of times in my writing career that one would have been great. It is fun to see your book for sale. It's fun to see the reviews start showing up. It's fun to get e-mails from readers who like your book. I had a note passed on to me from a Barnes & Noble community relations manager. She wrote " I read this book in two days - if I did not have to get up and be a functioning employee I would have read through the night. ... Draws you into the story as if you were living, breathing and speaking with Adriane and Beck at moments."   I mean, who wouldn't like getting a letter like that?

Every writer I know likes to hear that "I couldn't put it down" line. That's what keeps a writer digging the stubborn words out of her head to tell a new story.  At least it makes us feel good after we've spilled the words out. I have to admit I'd probably be writing some kind of story whether I had any readers sending me encouraging words or not. That doesn't mean encouraging words aren't a boost and a blessing. They are for this writer.

Now it's time to announce the winner of my blog drawing. I really appreciate all of you who left comments here in January. I have such fun reading your notes and love it when you share stories with me. I gathered a lot of comments about the quilt, so I know the love of quilting is still going strong out there. 

Okay, okay. I'll tell you the winners. I decided to pick two. Drum roll please. Virginia C. and Nancy D., you are my winners. I'll send you an e-mail for your mailing address. Thanks so much to all of you. We'll do this blog giveaway again soon.

And I've got that other giveaway going on my website now if you want to throw your name in the hat for that. I think I'm going to need a big hat. I sent out my newsletter today and the entries are rolling in. Also, I'll be doing some guest blogs and interviews in the next few weeks. Some of those will offer a copy of Words Spoken True to one lucky person who comments. So you've still got plenty of chances to win. The first ones are this weekend. You can also get a peek at the scene where Blake and Adriane meet on Chapter-a-Week. Check out the links on my website Event Page.

Thanks for reading. And tell all those groundhogs to stay underground and not come out and see their shadows tomorrow. Of course, it's already feeling like spring here, but I have a feeling winter will be returning.