Hey, folks! I’ll make this short and sweet . . . I’m giving away 5 signed copies of Folsom’s 93 over at Goodreads.
The hot ladies of Hot Chocolate Press will be at BookBar in Denver this Saturday! There will be readings, giveaways, and activities involving . . . marshmallows . . . of course. Dean K Miller, the hot guy of Hot Chocolate Press is unable to attend (no, this wasn’t our doing), but his books will be available for purchase at the event. If you can make it, we’d love to have you.
SAVE THE DATE: On January 9th, I will be joined by my fellow Hot Chocolate Press authors at Bookbar in Denver for a night of readings, games, and giveaways. (We all decided I will talk about my melons.) I’ll post more info soon.
Have a great weekend.
I’ll be joining fellow author, Kelly Baugh on September 24th at D’s Boutique in Berthoud, CO for a night of wine and readings. If you’re in the area, come say hello. Kelly will be reading from her women’s fiction, Miss You Once Again, an engaging story with memorable characters and a twist of Southern charm. And of course, I’ll be reading from Bobbing for Watermelons—no Southern charm in this one, but plenty of Midwest snark.
Would love to see you there.
This morning, WordPress informed me that my stats were on fire at Folsom’s 93, my other site. Sure enough, the last two days registered quite a jump. I don’t get a lot of traffic at my two sites, so my writer heart was all a flutter when I saw that I had over 500 hits before 10 a.m. Did an exec at the History Channel fall in love with my book? Did Oprah add it to her prized bookshelf? Surely, some influential bigwig is about to make my author dreams come true.
Is it finally my time to break the internet?! *squeals of delight*
No. One of my posts made it onto Reddit. And I immediately knew which one. It appears folks are strangely fascinated with . . .
And people google it. A lot. Because it regularly shows up as a search term on my analytics All. The. Time. Don’t know what it is? That’s okay, you’re not alone. For as many people who are keenly interested in it, there are twice as many who don’t know what the hell it is. In 2011, fellow writer, Jason Brick, wrote a guest post regarding this very topic, thus, illuminating the blogosphere to the act of hiding contraband up your derriere. Little did I know, it would become one of the most popular posts on the site. If you must.
I appreciate the visits of course, but it doesn’t appear a documentary about Folsom prison’s executed men is in the works, nor a spike in Amazon sales. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t as enthralling as keistering. I assure you, it’s even more so. *clutches book to chest*
It goes to show that the interests of the people is vast and varied, so if you are looking for a new book project, might I suggest one on keistering. It’s sure to be a hit.
Due to some weird Amazon glitches, Baby Shoes wasn’t half price as expected last week, but it is today. Such a deal! This is a fantastic read: 100 stories, 100 authors, 1000 words or less. Short, sweet, and to the point.
You can also click on over to The Writing Bug where I talk about not creating likable characters in “I’m Not Here to Make Friends.”
I recently acquired a family photo album that is more of a scrapbook; filled not only with pictures of bygone relatives, but with valuable, written histories, too. With modern technology, I envision worn and weathered photo albums becoming relics. Even albums from when my son was a baby, look dated. So many family histories are lost, and I always find it sad to find decades-old photographs in flea markets; these sepia-tinted orphans that belong in a family. (Of course, finding old photos is my thing.) With Facebook and other online media, your every move can be documented; immortalized for all time. If you’re a celebrity and want to know what you ate for lunch a year ago, just Google.
I’m lucky that my ancestors deemed their lives worthy of commemorating, otherwise, I’m not so sure I would have known I had relatives who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.
I was also thrilled to learn that there’s some writer-illustrator genes that go way back.
In the back of the album are original drawings from 1924 by author and cartoonist, Frank V. Martinek. He had married into my crazy family. Martinek was a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy and in an effort to educate and help recruit American youth, particularly in the Midwest, Martinek created the comic strip, Don Winslow of the Navy.
Winslow was based on a character in novels Martinek had already written. The comic strip ran from 1934 to 1955, and two films were made in the ’40s. Martinek didn’t actually do the illustrating for the comic, but provided all of the stories. Originally created as a propaganda tool, the strip was said to be very popular for its “excellence suspense, and ingenious, spine-joggling situations.” One historian said that Don Winslow is filled with “intrigue, spychasing, beautiful women, and villains with names like Dr. Centaur, the Dwarf, and the Scorpion.”
Martinek wrote several books:
Don Winslow and the Navy
Don Winslow Saves the Secret Formula
Don Winslow Breaks the Spy Net
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Great War Plot
Don Winslow Navy Intelligence Ace
Don Winslow U.S.N. in Ceylon
Don Winslow and the Scorpion’s Stronghold
Don Winslow and the Giant Girl Spy (The Better Little Book)
Don Winslow of the Navy and the Secret Enemy Base
Lieutenant Commander Don Winslow U.S.N. (The Big Little Book)
Know Your Man
Face to Face with the Scorpion
You can download Don Winslow of the Navy (1940) for free or read it online. I don’t have any other particular reason for this post, other than to well . . . preserve some history.
Never underestimate the recharging power of a vacation. We just returned from a 9-day jaunt in northern California and it was spectacular. I feel refreshed and ready to go, especially now that I have a new project underway—this time, a young adult novel.
Yesterday, I helped out at the Northern Colorado Writers booth at Fort Collins’ New West Fest where I got to chat with people about writing and sell a few books.
We (appropriately) rounded off the weekend with a nice cold What-A-Melon beer from a local brew pub. Who doesn’t love a book photo op?
Baby Shoes: 100 Stories, 100 Authors will be available tomorrow (August 18th) for half price. This is a really great book featuring some amazing authors showcasing their flash fiction chops. I’m honored to be among these authors with my story, “An Affair to Forget.”
Polish up those manuscripts because the Top of the Mountain Book Award will be underway in about a month. A few guidelines have changed and entrants will now have the opportunity to get their submission critiqued. So keep this contest in mind and check the site mid-September for all the rules.
Advice to authors: watch your back, because if you have the audacity to not meet your readers’ demands, you will be skewered. I feel for Harper Lee. It took only a matter of days to rip her down from a place of reverence and admiration (a position readers have bestowed upon her over the last fifty-five years) all because readers sanctified one of her characters.
(A character who the amazing Gregory Peck gave a nice, polished finish to.)
Go Set a Watchman tells the truth and the truth can hurt. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Finch is defending the law, not supporting desegregation. We see Atticus through the eyes of his adoring 6-year-old daughter, so it’s not hard to imagine readers becoming the same 6-year-old who later discovers disappointing truths. But to say things like, Harper Lee ruined my life; and To Kill a Mockingbird is no longer my favorite book, is childish and petty. To suggest that Lee owed readers a happy ending to the lives of these fictional characters is selfish. You don’t have to like it, but to tear her down because of it, is terrible. Get over it.
To Kill a Mockingbird took on a life of its own and it’s no wonder Lee didn’t publish anything until now. If anyone wants a happy wrap-up to the lives of Scout, Jem, and Atticus, then take to the fan fiction boards and write your own damn sequel.
Lee didn’t owe us a thing.
This Clean Reader debacle has become quite humorous. So the app only works on books you purchase through Clean Reader’s store and can be turned off if you so wish. Set to “Squeaky Clean” mode, the app thoroughly searches for words Clean Reader deems offensive and replaces them with words they’ve chosen for the offending word. They change the word “breasts” to “chest,” but are unable to distinguish between “chicken breasts” and women’s breasts.
Let’s cook up some chicken chests tonight.
“Vagina” is changed to “bottom,” and “penis” has been relegated to a “groin.” “Christ” is changed to “gosh,” but Passion of the Gosh just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And praise Jesus, doesn’t feel the same as “praise Gee.”
So bottom-line (that’s vagina-line to us UnClean Readers) is that readers can do whatever they want with books they purchase, and perhaps readers want someone to bleep out their books for them—and that’s fine. What really bugs me, is that Clean Reader is making their own determinations, or judgments, on what is profane and what words they choose to replace the profanity with. It’s not just curse words, but words describing body parts. A penis is a penis; a vagina is a vagina; they’re real words for real parts of the body, so why can’t they be called what they are? If you’re over a certain age, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge the names of body parts. You’re not having to say them aloud; you’re reading them. It’s a stupid app. If you can’t handle profanity, then don’t read romance, erotica, or other books you know will likely be riddled with “offensive” words. In many cases, changing the wording
fucks with freaks with the context, rendering the text confusing and oftentimes, comical.
Again, it’s a reader’s choice to do what they want with a book they’ve purchased and we have the choice to think it’s stupid. I do think this is something to keep a watchful eye on, as I can see this easily turning into a issue where sanitized books will be resold without author consent. Just saying.
If anything, the app brings MORE attention to the profanity by replacing these words with hilariously ill-suited words. Beware, if your characters order “beans and wieners” at their favorite hot dog joint, I hope they don’t mind getting beans and groins.
My, my, sometimes nothing sums up a situation, emotion, or feeling, like a good old fashioned f-word. I’m no stranger to throwing in some profanity into blog posts and stories; these wicked little words are part of our language and culture and they serve a purpose.
It appears that an app called Clean Reader allows readers to replace/hide all profanity in books. And they’re not calling it what it is: censorship and copyright infringement. Text is changed/edited without the author’s consent.
I first heard about this over at Chuck Wendig’s site, who wrote a fantastic commentary about this growing issue and I urge you to check it out. I also encourage you to read an email that author Joanne Harris received from Clean Reader and her stellar response.
Regardless of how you feel about profanity, is it right for anyone to alter someone’s book? Fuck no.
UPDATE: I should note that Clean Reader only allows readers to change words/text after they’ve purchased the book and are reading it on their own private devices. Sure, anyone can do anything to a book after it’s purchased, and according to Clean Readers, they’ve consulted with a gaggle of attorneys to ensure copyrights are not infringed upon, but something about this still irks me. There’s also a rumor floating around that the developers of Clean Reader are reselling “scrubbed up” versions of books . . . it’s worth investigating.
Here’s another take on the issue I recommend checking out.
Greetings from Vancouver. I’m on a bit of a break before the exciting cluster eff of the release of my book and the NCW Conference. This is the the kind of cluster eff I like. Bobbing for Watermelons will be available this Sunday, March 22, but you lucky folks can get a sneak peek at Hot Chocolate Press and read the first four chapters now. Both print and e-versions will be available. I also wanted to let you know that I’m Patricia Stoltey’s guest blogger today, so mosey on over if you have a moment and enter to win a copy of my book.
I also stumbled upon a nice surprise at Chapters’ bookstore in Vancouver . . .
Finding your book in a bookstore never gets old, eh?
Earlier this week, my publisher and I celebrated my almost-here book, Bobbing for Watermelons, with the Korbel Twins. It will be available in a couple of weeks, just in time for the NCW Conference. I made a few notes in the proof copy . . .
(At least you know it’s thoroughly edited.) I’m a big proponent of reading your book from start to finish in one or two sittings because you’re bound to catch things you wouldn’t have if you’re doing a piecemeal edit. I’m picky, too. I went after extraneous words like just and even, and replaced many exclamation points with periods. I tend to overuse them!! When I came across a part where I mention my characters had been married for 18 years, it immediately caught my attention because several chapters back, I had it at 20 years. I likely would have forgotten the first reference if I hadn’t of read it an hour earlier. I’ll also point out that 39 of those mini Post-Its are because an early chapter number was missing, so of course, I had to make sure each subsequent chapter got marked. So don’t ever underestimate the power of a proof copy and reading it straight through!!! You might get hungry, but that’s why restaurants deliver.
If you’re in the area, stop by Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins at 7:00 p.m. on February 24th, for an evening of readings. I’ll be joining my fellow Northern Colorado writers who are presenting their poetry, novel excerpts, or essays. I’ll be reading from my upcoming novel, Bobbing for Watermelons that’s due out next month. Tickets are $5 and you’ll also have an opportunity to purchase books, if you feel so inclined. Hope to see you there!
Pen and ink; needle and ink. They both tell stories. I love art and writing, so it’s no wonder I love tattoos. JC Lynne wrote a great post at The Writing Bug last week about the author persona, and if writers need one in order to sell books. Lynne, who’s also an inked lady, was encouraged by her husband to take on the “badass tattooed writer” persona. She argued that her persona should be that she “wrote a good book.” I agree.
I can’t say that I’m a badass because of tattoos; I just like them. Each one I have has special meaning and tells a story, and frankly, doesn’t have anything to do with persona—at least, I don’t think so. Does an author’s tattoos tell readers the type and even quality of what they write? In addition to lots of other topics, I’ve written about executions, prisons, and women’s fiction, but hell, whatever gets a reader’s attention, I’m all right with that. (Although I’d rather it be from my writing.)
After I got my sleeve, a family member told me that she didn’t like it when women got tattoos of—and I quote—“skulls and dead things,” on their arms. I’m pretty sure the only place she’s seen such tattoos on women was maybe once on an episode of “Law & Order.” She was relieved I didn’t, as if that meant I’d start skinning rabbits in my backyard and displaying their skulls on sticks.
Anyway, that’s really beside the point . . . I think. Whatever I have inked on my skin, whether it’s an owl or dead things, I don’t want to be judged by my cover. Who does? But I like telling stories on paper and on my skin, where I can truly wear my heart (and stories) on my sleeve.
TulipTree Publishing is a great new publisher looking for quality content for TulipTree Review, their literary journal; TulipTree Online, a separate online review; and TulipTree Books, printed works of authors, including anthologies. Editor, Jennifer Top, is looking for submissions and now’s a great time to submit. Plus, each quarter, $1000 will be awarded to first place winners in short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.
TulipTree Review is seeking entries for its first round of contests for its inaugural issue! A first place prize of $1,000 will be awarded in each category of short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Second and third place winners will receive $200 and $100, respectively. Winners and all those selected for publication will receive a free subscription to the new literary journal. The theme for the first issue is BEGIN. Deadline: March 9.
Good luck and happy writing!
As promised, here it is! Ain’t she a beaut? I am thrilled to bring you the cover of my forthcoming novel, Bobbing for Watermelons. If you’re like a lot of people, you might be wondering what the hell “bobbing for watermelons,” even means. First, I have my husband to thank for the title—it fits the story perfectly. I then added a short bit in the book explaining it:
“Sometimes, finding happiness is a lot like bobbing for watermelons. We take on more than we can handle and can’t get a grip. Kinda like going for that watermelon and ignoring the smaller fruit in the tub.”
I will post tantalizing snippets here and there to hopefully wow and amaze you into buying a copy from Hot Chocolate Press come March.
A weekend of writing events, that is.
Yesterday, my publisher emailed me and asked if I could do a live, one-hour radio interview this Saturday to discuss Folsom’s 93. I thought, ‘Gee, I don’t know. An hour to talk about my book? Writers hate that stuff, right?’ I did have to cancel my luncheon with Beyonce, but she’s always calling to come over, so I’m sure we’ll reschedule. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chat with George Yates, host of “Justice For All,” a radio show broadcasting out of Chesapeake, VA on WHKT. We go live at 2 p.m. EST/12 p.m. MST, but if you can’t tune in, don’t fret; it’ll be available online—I’ll update with a link. UPDATE: CLICK HERE to listen in.
Then it’s off to more book bliss with the Hot Chocolate Festival happenin’ Saturday evening from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. I will be joining other Hot Chocolate Press authors for readings and book talk. I’ll be revealing the cover for my women’s fiction, Bobbing for Watermelons, and I have to say, I love how it came out! (And I hear that Boardwalk Gallery will be decked out like a winter wonderland for the event . . . who’d want to miss that?!) Click the link for more information.
The Eclectic Reader bookstore is having their first-ever Open Mic Night January 10th from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The night will feature “Fragmentary Writing.” From their website:
“‘Fragmentary writing,’ what’s that?” you ask. Well, that’s what most of us do first (before we publish our Opus Majus). It’s bits and pieces of stuff, snippets, shards of thought, letters, diary and journal entries, short prose pieces, poetry, aphorisms, short essays, punchy letters to the editor and character sketches Oh, and songs…so music is welcome, too.
We’ll put out a money jar for a prize…winner takes all. Audience to be the judge.
Join us for some fun.
On the night of this frenzy of exposition, all books in the store will be 20% off.
Questions? Call 970-223-4019
Have a great weekend and happy writing!
So I have just a few reminders for you. . .
First, the Kickstarter for Baby Shoes: A Flash Fiction Anthology will be relaunching this Friday. In the meantime, check out the Facebook Page for it. My piece, “An Affair to Forget,” about a man who sees his imaginary girlfriend deep in conversation with his wife, will be nestled among 99 other authors who are participating, like Linda Needham, Joe Lansdale, Danika Dinsmore, and Walter J. Williams. This will be a great project to support, so I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
The Northern Colorado Writers Conference is open for registration. This is the 10th annual conference and as part of the Conference Creative Team, I can tell you, it’s going to be one hell of a
And that’s a good segue into the 4th annual Top of the Mountain Book Award that we give out at the conference. You don’t have to be an NCW member (or even a Colorado resident) to enter, and the contest is open to both published and unpublished authors. You also don’t have to attend the conference to enter. Submit the first 20 pages of your fiction or creative nonfiction manuscript, plus a 3-page synopsis by February 1st, and you could win $1000. It’s so easy it’s ridiculous.
That’s it for now.
Recently, I’ve had the honor of being interviewed by Emily Wenzl of Literary Fort Collins. Wenzl discusses (as you might guess) everything literary about this fabulous Northern Colorado city. I talk about . . . ah, me pretty much. Okay, a bit about how friggin’ hard writing can be, and I also dote on my critique group a little too. Anyway, check out Wenzl’s great blog if you get the chance.
Happy New Year!
I suppose it’s time to announce that my second book—this time, a novel, will be published in March 2015 by Hot Chocolate Press. Remember when I talked about what fun it is to revise an old manuscript? Well, it wasn’t all for naught. Bobbing for Watermelons, my women’s fiction is finally going to be real book. If you’re in the area, stop by the Hot Chocolate Festival at Boardwalk Gallery in Windsor, CO January 10, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for readings, art, and hot chocolate.
And if all goes well, I’ll be revealing the book’s cover as early as next week. In the meantime, check out (and Like) Hot Chocolate Press on Facebook. I hope you all had a great holiday and getting lots written. After two months of no snow, we received several inches last night, so I’m spending the day cozy-ing up and writing, well . . . editing actually.
My view today.
Okay, we’ll get there; just not as quickly as we thought. Baby Shoes, the flash fiction anthology that I’m taking part in, didn’t quite get off the ground as expected, but we’re not giving up. This Kickstarter project will launch again in January, so be on the lookout for updates. (I’ll be making sure you won’t miss a thing. 😉 ) There are a number of talented authors—many of whom you probably know—who are taking part in this anthology, so you won’t want to miss out. Stay tuned.
Usually when you hear “Photoshop,” you think of unrealistic waistlines and impossibly perfect skin tone. It’s always nice to see Photoshop being used for good, not evil. A few months back, I came across these remastered and colored Civil War pictures that I felt gave them a whole new meaning. Funny how color can do that, right? I don’t know if they used Photoshop, but you get where I’m going here. My son has been playing around with the program and wanted to see what he could do with one my Folsom’s 93 mug shots.
I think it turned out pretty amazing. I’ve always found this shot to be particularly haunting. His name was William M. Gray, Folsom’s 22nd execution. Given all the research into Gray’s case, I’m not entirely convinced he committed the crime for which he hanged. I’ll leave you with his final words in 1906:
” . . . there could be no God, else an innocent man would not be hanged.”
Ahhh . . . it’s Friday. I think I just heard a collective sigh of relief. Well, before your brains go into weekend mode, I wanted to post a couple of reminders about two things (you can thank me later).
There’s only 4 days left to take part in this awesome Kickstarter for a flash fiction anthology, Baby Shoes. 100 authors, 100 stories. With the amazing lineup of authors involved, it’s going to be an incredible anthology . . . if we could just reach our goal! Check it out.
My other reminder is about the Top of the Mountain Book Award sponsored by the Northern Colorado Writers. You don’t need to be a member of the NCW and the contest is open to both fiction and creative/narrative nonfiction. Check out all the rules HERE. It’s easy! You could win $1000 and recognition at the NCW Writers Conference March 27-18, 2015.
My last reminder . . . is to breathe. It’s Friday.
Have a great weekend.
If you’re in the Fort Collins area, I want to let you know about Lattes & Literature, a book fair featuring local author books as well as some delicious caffeinated concoctions. It all goes down Dec. 11 at Ft. Collins Coffeehouse . . .
For those history geeks in the family, you’ll be able to pick up my book, Folsom’s 93, but if you’re not in the area and don’t feel like a road trip, it’s also available from these fine local booksellers: Old Firehouse Books, The Eclectic Reader or from the big guys: Amazon and B&N.
Among these local scribes who’ll also have her book available is Kerrie Flanagan with Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe, a children’s book for 7-10-year-olds. For the writer in the family, she’ll have Write Away: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers available as well.
There are also some author signings coming up that you don’t want to miss out on.
Some other great titles you’ll want to get your hands on is Sheala Henke’s YA, IDEA-33: A Regeneration
And Nancy L. Reed’s Words Left Behind: Tales From a Life Gladly Lived
One of my favorite children’s books that just came out is Count the Clouds, by M.C. Myers that has incredible illustrations and comes with a CD and digital download for a sing-along good time.
All right, that’s about it for now. (And just so you know, I wouldn’t promote any ol’ writers; these are very talented, high caliber authors whose company I’m humbled to be in.)
Dean K. Miller’s poetry book, featuring some illustrations by yours truly, is now available in paperback from Amazon. Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse is a wonderful collection of poems that range from poignant and heartfelt, to clever and witty. You can read one of the poems, A Letter Home, HERE. Be sure to also see Dean’s other work. And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete and The Odyssey of the Monk. Dean is a brilliant poet and author who has the amazing ability to paint beautiful, vivid scenes with words—I highly recommend this book.
Hey, wanna support a Kickstarter anthology? Author Jason Brick, has rounded up some amazing writers (he felt sorry for me, so he included me) to take part in the flash fiction anthology, Baby Shoes. Staying true to the flash fiction concept, this anthology will be put together, well, in a flash, so we need your help. This book will feature 100 authors, 100 stories, 1000 words each. Don’t hold me to it, but there may even be a spot or two open . . . If you need a prompt, check out my last post—that’s actually where I got my inspiration for my flash fiction piece.
So friends, it would be ever-so appreciated if you could pass this along and help support this worthy writerly venture—there’s some cool perks in store for you!
According several studies, including this one from researchers at the University of Chicago, booze creates big ideas and caffeine makes them happen. Crap. That means as a writer, I could be screwed. You see, I gave up caffeine back in February (hello, sleep!) and 37 days ago, I had my last glass of wine (goodbye, social life)! When I had to finish up Folsom’s 93 and get it to the publisher, I took a break from booze and enjoyed a month with less brain fog (imagine that). Once the book was out of my hands, however, I practically leaped off the wagon with a box of wine under each arm.
Now, my creativity red light is flashing and it’s time for a refill. Is it really from the lack of my favorite Malbec? Do I take a cue from the famous
drunk writer Ernest Hemingway who said, “When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day, what else can change your ideas and make them run in a different plane like whisky?” I don’t know. I’m not entirely convinced that alcohol made me more creative (as evidenced by previous blog posts) so I’m not going to race to the liquor store (where everyone knows my name), but I will try—what some writers may call—the less fun approach: paper and pencil. A little help from my friends doesn’t hurt either. Write Away: A Year of Musing and Motivations for Writers by Kerrie Flanagan and Jenny Sundstedt is a great book filled with ideas and advice for writers who need to refill their creativity tank. Kerrie’s excellent writing advice and Jenny’s wit is the perfect combination for getting sober writers like me to “stay drunk on writing,” as Ray Bradbury advises.
Even though I can practically hear Edgar Allen Poe and Truman Capote guffawing at my teetotaler ways, I’m going to stick with being the designated driver for a while. Besides, someone has to recount (and retell) the events from the night before, which always has the potential to become the script for Hangover 3.
I’m thrilled to be working again with author Dean K. Miller. This time, it’s for his forthcoming poetry book, Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse.
It’s not available until November, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek of one of the several illustrations I did for the inside . . .
You can also read one of Dean’s poems, “A Letter Home,” featured on Readwave.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with Dean K. Miller, a very talented writer, for his book, The Odyssey of the Monk. Below is the cover I illustrated. The story is about a young orphaned monk who leaves the Buddhist temple he was raised in, to venture out on his own. It’s a beautiful story and is now available as en e-book. You can read more about Dean and his other works at his blog and check out the other illustrations I did for the inside. I’m also in the midst of working on drawings for his poetry book, due out in November, so you’ll be seeing those shortly.
Visit Dean’s blog and be sure to check out his other wonderful book, And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete.
If you’re able to tear yourself away from The Royal Birth Coverage, I’d love to share with you the equally exciting news of Folsom’s 93 book tour thus far. Check it out HERE. You can see me chat on Good Day Sacramento and if you’re not sick of me by then, you can listen to a public radio interview as well.
(A bundle of nerves before the interview)
Before I head out tomorrow for the California launch of Folsom’s 93, I held a book launch here in Fort Collins in the Tasting Room of the Fort Collins Brewery. The idea was not to sell a bunch of books, but rather, to celebrate with friends and family the long-awaited release of my first book. I guess I’d consider it more of a “book shower” after the birth of the darn thing. I didn’t expect everyone to coo over the book and buy, buy, buy. It’s okay to just hold it, look it over, and hand it back to the parent. Not everyone is into babies like this, especially creepy babies. It’s about celebrating. Having never done a book launch before, I learned a lot, so I thought I’d pass along my thoughts . . .
1.) First, I learned (well, was reminded) that I have the most amazing friends and family in the world. A BIG thanks to all those who came and supported me!
2.) Picking a venue: Free is usually best, but we decided to splurge a bit and rent out a section of a local brewery. Some things to consider: when they require a minimum in food purchases, find out if tax and added gratuity is included. (I was taken aback a little when they tacked on nearly a $100 gratuity to the bill for 2 bartenders even after they had put out 3 tip jars that were already filled). Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with tipping—I insist upon it—just be aware of what will be expected of you in this type of venue. We purchased beer and appetizers for guests, so it was great to see them drinking, eating, and mingling. If you don’t mind paying a little bit, this is a great way to go, especially since all you have to do is show up. I also considered buying a keg and hosting the event at my house, but the added stress of hosting (including cleaning up) just wasn’t appealing.
3.) Invite ’em right: I figured Facebook was a good place to start by creating an event that goes out to the friends you invite. It was probably the easiest, fastest way, but it was the least reliable method. Many people didn’t see that they were invited because FB alerts people once or twice and events are posted in an out-of-the-way spot and can easily be missed. Plus, lots of people use this tool and if you have some very social friends, your invite can easily get lost. I suggest using Evite. It’s free and a lot more reliable. You’ll need everyone’s email address, but for those who don’t post theirs on their FB page, send them a personal message.
4.) Get an “event planner”: This may be your spouse or best friend who’s not afraid to run the show a little. People seemed to show up all at once, so it was a bit overwhelming. I had planned on saying a few words and thanking everyone for coming, but there was never a moment when I could get everyone’s attention. I was in constant greet-mode. This makes it hard when it’s a friends and family event—at a public reading or signing, it’s a lot easier to say your shpeal. Before the shindig, designate someone who won’t be afraid to let loose a whistle or tap a glass to get the crowd’s attention—and yours. Also, have a friend take lots of pictures, because you will not have time to! This reminded me of my wedding reception, so it will be helpful to have others in charge of making sure things get done and go smooth. They also need to make sure you have something to eat and a drink in your hand.
5.) Pass the Buck: If you’re selling books yourself, designate someone to handle all of the sales. My husband, obsessed with finances, was the perfect choice for this job. I suggest getting the Square so that you can take credit cards via your smart phone or ipad. The device is free—they’ll mail it to you—and all you have to do is download the free app. It takes 2.75% of each swipe and that’s it; no additional fees and the moolah is deposited the next business day. This is ideal because you should have a box of books in your trunk. (If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you, or you’re a NY Times best seller and you don’t need to). With the Square, you can take payments from anyone, anywhere, including the barista who you see every morning who you’ve developed a friendly rapport with who will be delighted to now be serving the greatest local author ever. Also, make sure you can easily make change for those paying with cash. For example, I sold the book for $15, so we had lots of fives on hand because people paying cash were likely to pay with a twenty dollar bill.
6.) Say whaaat?!: Most people, when having a book signed, especially by someone they know, hope you’re going to do more than just sign your name. First, sign the title page. Always ask who they want it signed to and make sure they tell you how it’s spelled. (there are those few Apryls out there . . .) Find some signature phrases such as Many Thanks, Best Wishes, Much Appreciation, All the Best, Hope you enjoy the book . . .you get the idea. And think before you write. We had a small gathering a few weeks ago with good friends and one suggested I come up with something that has to do with prison, so I wrote “Stay on the straight and narrow . . .” . . . to our gay friends. After I handed it to them, I realized how stupidly inappropriate that was, but we all had a really big laugh about it.
7.) Get Creative: I had taken in a CD of the mug shots, as well as the book cover, to a print shop to have them enlarged and mounted on foamcore. (Thank you, Megan from Print Cafe. And thanks for coming to the launch!) These were great for displaying on the tables. I propped up the book cover on the signing table. Be sure to bring book stands for stuff like this. (Thanks, Kerrie!) They were a hit, particularly Felix, who made his way around the room . . .
8.) Open any gifts right away: If someone gives you a gift, particularly if it’s from your wonderful sister (who flew in from out-of-state to surprise you for the book launch), open it right then and there because it could be a beautiful, engraved pen that would have been perfect to use for signing the books. Things were busy and I didn’t open it until later. Don’t wait.
Overall, have a good time and enjoy yourself.
The company my husband works for is based out of San Francisco, so I decided to tag along this time. My son and I get to tool around the city while he works, then we’re off to Sacramento where I’ll be at the Folsom Prison Museum from 10-4 on July 20th. Next, catch me at Time Tested Books on July 24th in Sacramento at 7pm. Then it’s back to San Fran on the 25th to Modern Times Bookstore at 7pm. Wish me luck!
I’ve got the blog tour rolling with a first stop at The Death Writer, where I answer questions about Folsom’s 93 and then on to Patricia Stoltey’s blog where I discuss why I couldn’t talk about my book at the dinner table. I hope you can make it over to these great writer sites. Also, Kerrie Flanagan at The Writing Bug wrote a review!
Remember how excited I got when the UPS man dropped by back in April? Well, that was nothing compared to his visit today. Don’t you love the smell of fresh ink?
Not only that . . . my publisher was at the Barnes & Noble in Fresno, CA and sent me this beautiful picture . . .
Not bad for a Monday.
I just took this picture. Seriously, I just picked up my camera, pointed it at my backyard and . . . click! . . . here you go. This is a *little bit* of a freak spring snow storm here in Northern Colorado. We typically get most of our snow in March, but the snow gods decided to put it off until April 15 and it hasn’t let up too much since. When it’s all said and done (hopefully by tomorrow) we should have accumulated a little over 2 feet.
So I have to give a shout out to my local UPS guy who braved the storm and delivered my box of new postcards and business cards that I recently ordered. (He must have known I was ignoring all my other tasks today by sitting at my computer thinking about what my next blog post would be). I also think it was the one and only time he couldn’t wear his little brown shorts. Anyway, I have the NCW Conference next week and unfortunately, I’m not able to get any reader copies of my book by then, so these post cards will have to do.
Pretty snazzy, huh? (Front and back) I keep fearing that as I read them, I’m going to discover a typo—no matter how many times I went over them before clicking the all-powerful and no-going-back order button. Now lets hope I get rid of them all before the release date in July. And it looks like I’m be returning to prison July 20th with an initial signing at the Folsom Prison Museum, that sits just outside the prison. I think, however, I’ll stay on the outside of the prison walls this time. That is of course, if I make it through this blizzard.
It must have been the gradual cooling of my heated mattress pad that woke me up. The power was out. Granted, it was 7:45 AM and I should have been up anyway, but still. How rude. All right, North Korea, you’re really starting to piss me off. Actually, my first thought was, Am I going to have to take my zombie-face to Starbucks? Panic set in. When you don’t know where your next cup of coffee is going to come from—if at all—things can get hairy pretty fast. I texted my friends who live in The Sac with me. (This is the name all of us have given to our cul-de-sac). One was about to break out the camp stove to brew some beans. I was ready to trek over in my bunny slippers, cup in hand, when bleep! Power returned. Crisis averted. Whew! Because any major apocalypse before my morning coffee is just plain mean.
Perhaps deep down, I was thinking about The Dog Stars, that I just finished for book club. It’s only the second post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read, and incidentally, they both are set in Northern Colorado. A little advice . . . when first diving into reading about this subject matter, you may not want to start out with books that take place where you live. The first, was Brian Kaufman’s Dead Beyond the Fence: A Novel of the Zombie Apocalypse. Not a good apocalypse to be around for, not that it’s even possible to put a positive spin on an apocalypse.
So, it sounds like most of the gals in my book club really loved The Dog Stars. We’re meeting next week to discuss it. I have to say, I didn’t love it, but I certainly didn’t hate it either. I think what threw me was the style in which it was written; I found it distracting and confusing in some parts. Overall, however, it was good. What did you think of the book? And what other post-apocalyptic (I’m getting real good at spelling that correctly the first time!) books do you recommend? (preferably ones set outside of Colorado)?
What do these two things have in common? They’re combined into a short story, part Stephen King weirdness, part crime noir by author, Jason Brick, (PG-writing, family-friendly-writer, etc) writing under the pen name of Jake F. Simons (bad-ass R-rated, foul-mouthed writer).
Panamanian Stompers is an entertaining and funny short read that’ll only cost you .99 . . . such a deal.
[The bar] squatted there in a nasty neighborhood like a freshly picked scab on an acne-strewn face, between a bare dirt parking lot and a stinking stretch of industrial shoreline.
If that doesn’t pique your interest, maybe this will . . .
The sound came again, much closer than before. Fernie’s gut rolled. He flinched, expecting the next sound to be . . .
Learn more about Jason and his writing on his blog, BrickCommaJason.
Ah . . . the immortal words of Dr. Phil. I can hear his voice in my head asking me about my latest “Get-Writing-Quick” scheme that I started just over a month ago. You know, the whole Jar Idea.
Well, I haven’t been able to utilize them the way I was hoping; too many tasks already on my plate. However, I am happy to say that I had an article accepted for publication in the April/May issue of Whole Life Times. Take that, Pinterest! Speaking of which, it’s been two days since my last Pinterest visit and I’m hoping I can stay on the wagon for a little while longer.
I have also made sure that I threw some fun into my schedule by attending a book signing by friend and fellow writer, Chuck Barrett while he and his lovely wife were visiting from Florida. Chuck’s third book, Breach of Power is scheduled for a mid-March release which I was able to pre-order (just like you can!) and picked up signed copies of his first two.
So all in all, I haven’t been totally unproductive; I do have a writers conference to help set up after all . . . And, I’ve been receiving edits from my publisher of Folsom’s 93, so it hasn’t been all hammocks and margaritas here–I promise, Dr. Phil.