Most authors who attend book fairs designed to get a bunch of readers to come to one place at one time to, with any luck, buy books, are small name authors, often indie these days. They have other jobs, family obligations, house stuff to take care of, kids to feed, etc. And they’re mostly unknown.
Of course the big book fairs such as the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. started by first lady Laura Bush brings in big names such as John Irving and R. L. Stein. They can afford to do so, and it’s a wonderful opportunity. (I have a personally signed book by Irving and won’t soon forget talking to him in person, for about 10 seconds before moving along so the long, long line could advance.) However, some of the brightest gems are hidden in the dark mines of obscurity and you can find them at smaller, local book fairs.
Most of us mostly unknown authors with shining gem books waiting to be found are always looking for opportunities to help them be found. Social media can only do so much. Talking face-to-face with your potential readers can’t be beat. Readers like approachable authors. They still like print books. And they love to have personally signed books by authors they meet.
If you have a book fair nearby, and if the fee to attend isn’t too extravagant for your budget, definitely GO. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking for those of us who are introverts (and that’s a very high percentage of authors). Yes, it’s a gamble as to whether you’ll sell enough to be worth the gas money (because you don’t want to count on making even minimum wage for the number of hours you sit out there wracking your nerves trying to sound like an intelligent writer-person worth reading). Still, connecting not only with readers but also with other writers is an important part of the job. There are things you can’t learn from Tweeting and Liking and Commenting. Get out there and do it in person.
Don’t have a book fair nearby? Create one.
Yes, most of us are introverts. We like to stay in our comfort zone. We don’t have organizing event experience. So what? No one does their first time. Start small.
I just did this. Now, not only am I the typical introvert author, I’ve also fought debilitating social phobia (now called social anxiety disorder) since I was a pre-teen. No, I don’t just mean I get nervous talking in groups. I mean I get nervous talking to one friend or going grocery shopping or asking to try on clothes before I buy them (generally, I just risk it instead).
But this book thing is very important to me. Not only my books. But books. Reading. In general. Widely. Avidly. I’m on a quest to encourage more people do that again because it’s important.
Since the closest book fair isn’t very close to me out here in the boonies where I can generally be a hermit writer, and since it also has a pretty steep attending fee, I’ve never gone. I have too many obligations to just pack up and travel to the big book fairs. The idea of going out to places I’ve never been and trying to keep my nerves calm enough to be able to speak to potential readers makes me cringe. Physically. And mentally.
So, this year I created one. A book festival. Locally. Right here in the area where I’m comfortable. Of course, it took months of work and eliminated some of my own writing time, but in the end, it was definitely worth it. We got a good crowd for our small area, plenty of praise for the event, nice publicity for area newspapers before and after the event, and even notes of praise for doing something good for the community from a state senator.
The biggest benefit, though, is sharing your books and your love of books with your community, and helping to support your own community of local authors.
The process (not necessarily in this order, except for #1):
1) Get a local author network going well ahead of time. This is easily done with social media groups and email. A couple of years ago, I started a local author Facebook group and made it private so we could share information. I stayed on the lookout for authors in the area not yet in the group and emailed to invite them. Not all are on Facebook, so I also have an email list to send out pertinent information. Along with this, I made flyers to take to our local bookstore which stocks local author books inviting any of them stopping in the store to join us.
2) Put up a website. I used Blogger which doesn’t cost anything, then bought a domain name to attach to it to make advertising easier and more professional. I use the blog feature to highlight authors who agreed to attend and pages for information. You can find it HERE. (We had a fairly steady stream of views from the time we started advertising, and a huge jump the month before the event when papers started covering us, also a huge jump after the event.) There are plenty of free sites you can use, but some demand an upgrade in order to attach a domain name. You can always start with a blog and upgrade later, although I find the blog format very helpful and easy to update.
3) Get help! Four local authors were so excited about the event from the beginning that they asked to help in any way they could. So I made them fest committee members. Trust me, it’s a good amount of work. If you have trust-worthy people willing to help, take them up on it!
4) Find a place. We have a local farmers market on one street of the courthouse square and a beautiful courthouse lawn that hosts events such as the summer community concert series. The farm market has to have insurance to operate and they were glad to host us under their name on a market day so we could use their insurance and help draw people to the market. If this idea won’t work for you, ask a local business with a large yard or parking lot, or ask your town’s chamber about using the sidewalks. Check into the legalities. Be sure there is restroom availability for your authors, as well as food, water, etc. Maybe even invite local food vendors.
4) Decide what to charge authors to attend. I decided to make it free for authors in order to encourage participation in an event none of us would be sure how it would turn out. Be careful about doing this. Promo, even cheap promo, adds up fast. Before you start ordering promotional material, get a feel for how many authors you might count on to attend. Start small and build as you’re able.
5) My biggest promo for the event was bookmarks with the event, date, place, and time featured. You’ll want a logo of some kind for your website and your promo material. I do design work, so this was not an issue. Get help if you need it. A high school art student/club in the area may be willing to create a logo and do design work for exchange publicity. I had two bookmarks printed on a 4x6 postcard, uploaded it to Vistaprint, and then cut them out with my handy paper cutter. If you watch for a sale, you can get them for not too much expense. Or go to a local printer and see what price you can get. Maybe they’ll be willing to give you a deal in return for a sponsorship. Committee members helped to take stacks of these to local libraries and our local bookstore, along with an event flyer. This was very effective promo, as it also brought in more authors. Also suggest your authors take some to their book signings before the event if they have any.
6) Having a Facebook/other social media page for the event is a good idea. Authors and others can share your posts to their pages. Free, easy promo!
7) Draw up an author contract that details what they need to bring, etc. You’ll want to have a print copy for each author to keep on record.
8) Keep track of your expenses. For legalities. You can use your own account since this is an event and not a business or charity. But keep track. You shouldn’t make a profit on attending fees or sponsorships. It should all go back into the event.
9) Get sponsors! Go to local businesses and ask for their support in return for listing them on your website and event flyers. I also created a literacy brochure with facts and statistics that show the benefits and necessity of reading and included higher level sponsors on that, as well. Events that bring people to your community is good for the community, including local businesses. Keep your sponsorship levels low enough that small businesses can be included. Many of them are struggling, as well.
10) Arrange a time for author readings, at least for children’s authors. Children’s events bring in parents.
11) Close to the event date, create event flyers listing the attending authors with genre and other special events, such as readings. I used rack cards for this.
12) If you get enough sponsors to help pay expenses, have giveaways at your event. You can also have gear that will help bring in funds. We had tote bags with our logo (reusable that also work for farm market produce bags), stylus pens with our tag line and website address, and bumper stickers for sale at the event. With enough sponsorship, these can be giveaways. Our giveaways included the remaining promotional bookmarks and bright green pencils with our tagline and website printed on them. I ordered a ton of pencils since I ran across a sale at the company I use for promo material, and at the end of the event, I handed a bunch to each author to share as advertisement for next year’s fest.
13) Ask for volunteers! High school students looking for volunteer hours or local book lovers may be very willing to come help for the day. Authors may need spells for lunch, etc. if they don’t have a helper with them. You also need someone to man the welcome tent where your event flyers and other giveaways will be stationed, along with a raffle if you do one, and people to answer questions by authors and wandering book lovers. (I was incredibly lucky to have a lot of help from my family, along with a local book lover who just wanted to help.)
14) Consider Extras: We had a big sign out front that announced what we were doing (learning experience: next year it will be bigger). I also designed, printed, and laminated individual author signs with their genre for the front of each tent. I’m fortunate to have a husband who works with wood and he made holders to staple the signs on (learning experience: next year, taller stakes).
A caveat: for an outdoor event, tent space can be an issue. Not all authors have tents/canopies or the ability to tote a 10x10 tent in their vehicle. Check with local places to see about renting tents for those who need it, but place the charge on the authors. Don’t take on too much yourself!
Also, have a rain date! Books and wind with rain do not mix. We were lucky this year and only had heat to contend with. That won’t always happen.
As a thank you to the farm market for sponsoring us, I took up a donation of one book from each author to raffle all together. You could also do groups of books in genres if you have enough authors. The proceeds went to the farm market. If you don’t need a thank you gift, use it to help pay expenses or to go to a local literacy group/library/etc.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and very welcome in the community. So go ahead, start your own! Questions? Ask away…
Be sure to check out our 1st Annual West PA Book Festival website to see which authors jumped in and took a risk with me to get this going!
Next post: Preparing for and attending a book festival as an author.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Most authors who attend book fairs designed to get a bunch of readers to come to one place at one time to, with any luck, buy books, are small name authors, often indie these days. They have other jobs, family obligations, house stuff to take care of, kids to feed, etc. And they’re mostly unknown.
Friday, May 22, 2015
The print cover (to the left) of Moondrops & Thistles (Elucidate Publishing, 2012) has not changed, but I had a thought for a new cover for the ebook, asked for a few opinions, then did an update. It’s getting nice comments so far. What do you think?
While you’re checking the cover, maybe read an excerpt. On Smashwords, you can read the first 10% before deciding whether to purchase. I also have the beginning on the book’s website, along with reviews and other buy links.
You can also now request your library to order this title, and my other books, in electronic format through Overdrive.
Moondrops & Thistles
Daws, aka Sergeant Fred Dawson, U.S. Army, is a determined and highly respected leader. Called to serve in Desert Storm, he performs two impromptu rescue missions and manages to bring all of his men back home. While still haunted by the cost of his actions, he loses the most important person in his life, in an accident for which he feels partly responsible.
Deanna Meyers has had it with men. As far as she's concerned, there isn't a true loyal and honest gentleman left in New York City. In the midst of trying to advance in the world of advertising where the men in charge are more interested in her other attributes than in her skills, she finds herself in another destructive relationship, this time to the possible detriment of her career.
When they run into each other at a bus stop in the pouring rain after midnight, Daws and Deanna recognize the spark of a connection that draws them in the way they are both drawn to the city lights at night.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
I have to laugh. Way back when I was working outside the house and taking care of my young children after work, I used to grab bits and pieces of time to write. Generally that meant after their bedtime when I was tired but determined, and in a few minutes on weekends here and there around whatever else was going on. I would dream of the time I could stay home and write for more than snatched moments around everyone else.
I got that. Well, more or less. Hubby’s job changed and so did mine: I got to stay home and do everything but work outside the house. Well okay, but the kids did have school all day so that was some glorious writing time. Well, other than when the house flooded and I had to manage the fixing of it. And other than calls from the school to pick up a sick kid. Or taking care of the utility sink when the washer overflowed it. You know, all that fun house and kid stuff.
And then the kids got older and more on their own and I got my writing days. Really. Man, did I get on a flow! A one book a year flow, and these were not skinny books. Then a two book a year flow until I caught up to having 12 books out over 12 years even though the first books were four years apart or two years apart. But I was on a roll.
And I saw so many younger author acquaintances just wishing for the day they could have full days to write and I remembered full well that feeling. But there is the other side of that: when you don’t have to fight for writing time, there’s an intensity you lose. I’d started wondering if I was losing too much writing intensity because I had so much time to just write. You know the phrase “be careful what you ask for,” right?
So yes, the kids got older and more on their own enough to need wedding planning and then to be graced with beautiful, wonderful, incredible little handfuls (ahem, grandchildren) who I love to spend time with as much as I can. One is out of state but we “chat” over the phone or through the net and he visits as much as his parents allow (can manage). The other gets lots of Grandma time since she stays with me while Mom and Dad are both at work.
That all day writing time… Well, you know. I’ve lost speed. And once I get over the exhaustion of doing this at “my” age instead of the young mommy age, I’m sure that intensity to find writing time will return.
For now, I’m intensely enjoying these magical little gifts that are the result of putting up with their parents (ahem, enjoying their boisterous head-strong parents at each stage of their in-a-hurry-to-be-able-to-do-what-I-want childhoods) and that may be enough intensity for now.
I’m still writing. Just slower. That’s okay. Too soon, the babies will have their own things to do and I’ll have more story fodder that’s simmering in my mind as I try to stay awake long enough at night to think about my stories.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
What am I reading? I’m in the middle of Creation by Gore Vidal, an intense long complicated book set way back in the time of the Persian empire. I’m also working on Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a very thick lit fic that’s so beautifully written I could be jealous if allowed myself. And I’ve just started on a brand new ebook by Rigel Carson titled G-1, a sci fi futuristic read that has a lot of today’s societal issues mixed into the make-believe world of the future.
Yes, I’m usually reading three books at once. I never used to do so, but I find it convenient to leave one upstairs beside the bed, usually the one that takes the most concentration, one in print beside my easy chair that I’ll read during TV shows someone else is watching or through Pirates games (it’s Pirates season again!), often non-fic. And I have one always in progress on my ereader or tablet. That’s usually one I can carry in one hand as I chase the baby around the house to keep her out of trouble, one that takes less concentration and often with short chapters that works well for short reading spurts.
I do read a lot. Not because I have the time, but because I make it, because it matters. Often it’s after 9 pm when I’ve already put more than a full day’s work in and I need to unwind. Books unwind you far more than TV does. They do.
But it’s not only for unwinding. It’s for my profession: I don’t read authors who say they don’t read other authors. It’s part of the job requirement. Along with that, it’s for my knowledge base. I’m a perpetual student and I can’t understand anyone who isn’t and doesn’t care to be. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Apparently I feel like I have a lot of growing to do. ;-) So I read. A lot. In different genres. About different subjects.
And yes, I often encourage others to do the same. Why is it my business? Because we are all connected. What we do affects those around us and our society as a whole. The more we truly understand each other, the better we can get along. And books don’t argue back. They say what they say and you’re free to take it in or dismiss it. But the more you take in, the more empathetic you become.
There’s a world of difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is caring about how someone else feels. Empathy is actually understanding how someone else feels. Huge difference. Empathy is far more important and we need for more of it.
So pick up a book that’s set somewhere you haven’t been about something you haven’t experienced, and let your empathy grow.
Reading helps you go places, even if you stay right there in your home area. But you don’t have to listen to me. Listen to the experts about going places:
And if you’re interested in checking out one of my EMK books, Pieces of Light, a novella, is free this week only for Read An Ebook week.
Monday, January 05, 2015
Yes, I like to play with the numbers in dates. Strange, I suppose, since math class always made me cringe. But there you go – not everything makes sense.
I’ve started journaling this year for the first time in far too many years. I did make an attempt a couple of years ago, but then my “wait, I write all the time, anyway, so what’s the point” attitude kicked in and I stopped. I still think there’s a point. Maybe especially for writers. And especially for dream journals, which I also have and need to get back to.
It’s quite a release to journal. I don’t plan to let anyone read it, although I don’t plan to destroy it, either, so there’s a chance someone along the line will read it. At that point, I won’t care one way or the other. Or I suppose I won’t. Guess it’s hard to tell. My guess is it’ll be too boring to bother with. The good stuff is in my books.
I’m also back to more artwork. The more I do it – I did a bit for Christmas gifts last month – the more I want to do more. I’ve even wondered if I should have stayed the course back when I was majoring in art. Ah well, you can’t change what you’ve done; you can only learn from it.
The key will be finding time for both art and writing, but I think they will complement each other well. I can see it already infusing more into my stories with colorful detail, with more luscious imagery. There’s a tip for other writers: paint something. It doesn’t matter how it turns out. Just look out your window and paint what you see how you see it. Like journaling, it’s a nice creative exercise that helps to unlock a different part of your brain and will seep beautifully into your words.
Painting or drawing is like journaling, really. You don’t realize how much you don’t see until you do.
How’s that for philosophical? :-)
According to Goodreads, I read 30 books last year. Well, 2 of them were children’s books I reviewed and two I abandoned. So, 27, roughly. No, one was a box set of 3, so 30 is pretty accurate. A mix of them. Long, short, literary, romance, non-fic, cozy mystery…
Not that the specific number matters. What matters is what I got out of them. I review almost everything I read these days because, well, it’s nice for the author to get a review to show people are reading her work, and, reviewing is like painting. You have to think more about what you read when you deconstruct it enough to review it well.
In art, you’re taught to see what you actually see as you reproduce it instead of what you think you see. In other words, look at each small part of it instead of at the whole object. The small parts make a bigger “whole” than the whole work itself. Really. It does. Even if it doesn’t make sense mathematically.
That’s why I prefer art. Stuff like that actually makes sense in art.
Anyway, hubby is an artist, as well, as is most of my family. We’re just strange that way. Hubby and Son do woodwork together. They’re about to branch out into more artistic artwork. So, why not? We (well, I) set up a page for our family art. It’s just beginning, but it’s a start.
2015 is starting out busy around here, but that’s nothing new. How about you? Starting anything differently creative?
Saturday, December 13, 2014
My grandson turned a year old yesterday. On his birthday, his cousin who is 3 months younger decided to take her first steps. These babies, although they live several states apart and have seen each other for a total of 2 weeks, are pretty synergistic, or so it seems. How many 9 month olds will notice his 6 month old cousin can’t get around as well as he can and bring her toys to play with or allow her to play with the same toy he had first when she reaches for it? How many 6-9 month olds absolutely light up at photos of her baby cousin?
I like to think they know they’re related. Babies are smart, far smarter than too many people give them credit for. There was also no jealousy when their parents held their cousins, which can very well happen at this age.
Of course, being brought up in a loving and sharing environment where they’re encouraged to explore helps that.
Christmas is far more fun when babies are involved. This new grandma is having plenty of fun. :-)
Of course, this new grandma has set work aside to some extent, also, to spend time with babies, even when it’s over the phone or on video message.
The writing plan for this year was to get Rehearsal 4 out, as well as the new editions of Rehearsal 1 & 2. That’s not going to happen. Possibly early 2015. The first EMK Artists & Cottages book was set to come out in October, also, which also didn’t happen. Well, you know, books stay the same however long they sit. Babies don’t. Babies change incredibly fast.
They are also very inspiring. Punkindoodle and Ladybug are no exception. More stories ahead…
One of the big parade hosts on Thanksgiving was talking about some TV channel and how great it is for kids and said when the kids are sleepy but won’t give in, set them in front of whatever channel it was and let them fall asleep watching.
My gut wrenched and I wanted to grab his microphone and yell, “DON’T DO THAT!” Sigh. Put them in bed with books, preferably with someone reading them a book. Don’t bore them to sleep with television. Relax them with reading. Yes, it matters. It most definitely matters.
I also caught a clip of a show someone else was watching the other day where a guy said he was a writer because he’d written a book. His buddies promptly laughed at him and asked if it was published and since it wasn’t, they made a big deal out of saying he wasn’t a writer if he wasn’t published. Really? One of them was moronic enough to say, “I’ve flown in airplanes. Does that make me a pilot?” Now, if you don’t realize how completely unfitting that comparison is to publishing making you a writer, maybe read more. You’re a writer if you’re a writer. You’re a published author if you’re a published author (in whatever form). [You’re not a writer if you only read books (re the pilot comparison).] You’re an artist if you create art, whether or not anyone ever sees it. You’re a musician if you play music. We are all a very wide variety of things. Why pigeonhole? And why laugh at someone who has written a so-far-unpublished book just because it’s not published yet? How about trying it yourself instead? Write a whole book. Sure, anyone can do it, but not everyone will. (Quality is a whole different matter.)
And this morning: a new teen show commercial where a girl talks about someone being sweet, “but sweet can be boring” so she changes her whole appearance and sets out to… do whatever she sets out to do with her new “I’m so cool” attitude. Really??? Come on, Hollywood. Grow a brain, already. And we wonder why kids think snarky and nasty are cool? Sweet is not boring. Snarky is getting very boring. Kids being who they aren’t just to fit in with the snarky in crowd are beyond boring.
So that’s the state of things as I see it on this 12/13/14 at 15:16 (military time for 3:16). Some things only happen on a rare occasion and we should maybe take notice even when it seems pretty non-eventful.
Saturday, December 06, 2014
When I couldn’t find those little baby mittens with a string that keeps them hooked onto their coat, I decided to get creative. With the plethora of fuzzy socks available lately, it’s easy to find some in the colors you want.
My first thought was to use the toes since they’re already stitched together and that would be great for bigger hands (or if you find them in small sock sizes). I wanted them smaller and more rounded, so I cut off the end. I left enough of the ankle to be able to wear the rest of the socks. (You’ll want to finish the edge in some way so they don’t ravel.)
Next, I turned them inside out and trimmed the end I cut to a somewhat rounded shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Because this material frays and bunches, I cut fusible interfacing and ironed them on to the finger areas that I would need to sew.
I tried machine sewing, but given the softness and bulkiness of the fabric, my machine kept getting stuck, so I gave up and grabbed needle and thread and did a simple whip stitch around the edges.
To help keep them on baby’s hands, I used 1/8 inch soft elastic, sewed it in a circle, folded it around the pre-finished edging (inside-out), and sewed it in. Measure it on your baby and be sure not to make it too tight. No cutting off baby’s circulation!
For the string to keep them from getting lost, I used three strands of yarn and braided them together (use all the same or vary the colors to match your socks). I knotted the ends tightly and sewed the knots on the edge of each glove, then frayed the extra yarn under the knots for decorative purposes.
And voilá! Homemade one-of-a-kind baby mittens!
Note: These do not have separate thumbs. You could cut the shape out to create thumb holes if preferred.
Note 2: This was a spur-of-the-moment project for my granddaughter. If you have thoughts on different ways to do it, please comment!
Thursday, November 13, 2014
A quick tidbit about me: I hate white walls. I mean I seriously hate white walls, particularly when they are done in a matte paint you cannot clean. More especially when those matte white un-cleanable walls are in a kitchen.
Whenever I move, which has been often, I paint to make it my own. (With the exception of military housing and its white matte un-cleanable un-changeable walls, which I hated.) We’ve been here for seven years now and most every room in the house has been painted, most right after we moved. The kitchen, though, has been a bit of a thorn in my side because despite the hated white matte walls, I was unsure what I wanted to do with it. It came with a pretty white-based herb border around the top and much of it is white tiles with scattered herb images. White tiles I don’t mind so much. They clean easily. The countertops are a green-blue-gray swirl I like okay even if it wouldn’t have been my choice. The cabinets are oak. They need some revamping and my wood experts husband and son will get to that in time, but they are beautiful, and all of the oak in the house was a big sell point for me, so I wanted to play on that.
Along with the white walls, there is a double door that goes out onto the deck, very nice, except the door was painted glossy white and the window frames… well… you can see it here. Plastic frame. Old yellowed plastic frame. As bad as matte white walls. At least it had a wood texture imprinted in it.
I always try, when redecorating, to bring the outdoors in, to blend them so the view from the windows are part of the decorating scheme with as much flow as possible. I’m very earthy. I love the natural greens and blues and browns of the earth. So that’s what I use, along with accents of floral yellows, corals, dusty rose. I’ve insisted that this view to the trees outside my kitchen stay unblocked as possible, no big table umbrella, the grill and smoker are to the side out of the way. And the café rods there when we moved have been sitting there waiting. At one point, I had fresh herbs from my garden hanging from them.
When I found a pair of beautiful barely-there sunflower yellow and tree leaf green floral valances on a transparent cream fabric recently, I knew what I wanted to do. There was the color scheme I needed to liven up my kitchen and take away that glaring white.
Taking the valance with me to the hardware store, I grabbed a butternut squash yellow in kitchen satin for the walls and a pale leaf green for those doors. (Don’t let them fool you. One coat? Not that I’ve ever found so far. And painting kitchen satin on top of matte white was interesting. It sucked up the paint and made it not an easy paint job, but the second coat covered it beautifully.)
Anyway, that yellow window frame had to change, too. Hubby said he could replace it. I’m sure he could (we’re big do-it-yourselfers), but I did it faster and far cheaper with paint.
I wanted them to match my cabinets and so I started by painting them a light golden brown:
The left side shows what it looked like after two coats of brown paint. (I grabbed a paint sample instead of a can since it was cheaper and still more than I needed.) Of course that didn’t look like wood yet, so I grabbed my bottle of antiquing gel (you can find it in any decent craft supply store), brushed it on, and wiped it off with a paper towel so it only filled the cracks and barely coated the paint. (Work in sections so it doesn’t dry too much before you wipe it.) Voilá! I made wood from plastic. After cleaning the residue off the windows and standing back, I couldn’t tell the difference between this painted plastic and real wood. (Even hubby approved.)
Note: You do want to seal it with a brush-on varnish of some kind so the antiquing gel doesn’t wash off when you clean it. I used clear acrylic medium by itself, which gave it a nice sheen. You could find a matte finish if you’d rather not have the sheen, or a gloss finish if you like ultra-shiny.
Here’s my finished project:
It makes the whole kitchen look far more elegant and refined and took barely any time with not much expense. (I also found those valances on a good sale.)
For those finishing touches that make a big difference: I pulled down all of the switch plate covers, as well as the shiny gold café rod ends, and spray-painted them antique gold using Rustoleum hammered spray to match my cabinet hardware. I used the same spray to make the silver track light we just bought match my décor (be sure to cover every part of it that should not be sprayed!).
Next on my project list: I picked up samples in complementing colors to paint small clay pots. I plan to put those below an under-the-counter plant light on a wood rack formerly used for spices to start herbs for my herb shelf (you can barely see the top of that in the photo – also made by hubby – yeah he’s pretty handy).
Why “formerly used for spices”? Well, I have a new spice rack courtesy of hubby that also matches my cabinets. But that’s a post for another blog.
Do-it-yourself takes some learning and some patience, but it’s ultra satisfying to turn out something that makes your home nicer and reminds you of the results of your own work whenever you look at it.
That money you saved not replacing something you reworked yourself? Buy a few good books and kick your feet up for a well-earned break.
Thursday, November 06, 2014
This is a counter-post to my author friend Linda Acaster’s post today:
#Nanowrimo is Live – But is it for you?
I love Linda’s fiction and I respect her accomplishments, so this is all in good sport.
No worries. I’ve heard every negative thing there is to hear about writing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days: everything from “writing should be spontaneous and not forced” to “whatever you write during Nano will be garbage (or other, strong expletive synonyms).” So from the point of view of someone who is in her 11th straight year of the challenge, plus a couple of Camp Nano sessions and off-site sessions….
Yes, I’m doing Nanowrimo again. Yes, I still have time to write a blog post. Yes, I still read a few other blogs. I even read other novels during November. I’m about to finish Jane Eyre and start on Marilynne Robinson’s newest.
No, I don’t neglect my family. There is still food in the house and on the stove. The dishes get done each day. The carpets get vacuumed. Heck, I even dust now and then during November because I like the shine of my oak furniture I finally have after years of self-assemble cheap stuff that’s better fit for kids and military moves. This year, I have the additional benefit/writing distraction of a beautiful new little soul crawling around the house and reaching her arms up to Grandma to pick her up just because. (Grandma always does, despite word count or lack thereof.) Heck, they usually don’t even remember it’s Nanowrimo month until I regale them with my wonderful (more or less) word count.
My pre-planning these days consists of deciding on a setting, and an art, then picking a couple of characters last minute to throw into the story. They kind of develop themselves as I write.
I will say this method of writing only developed during Nanowrimo one year because I wanted to do the challenge and hadn’t the vaguest idea what I was going to write for it. Turned out that first “just grab characters and write them” story needed very little rewriting and it’s one of my most loved books, according to my fans. [Protect The Heart] Normally, I do plan my books for some time before writing them. I’m good with either method.
These days I use the fast novel month to write my Ella M. Kaye books since they are all short and non-rambling romances better given to this sort of thing. But, four of my lengthy LK books began during Nano. In 2008, I added 97,000 words to Rehearsal: Of Chaotic Currents (which turned into about 260,000 words eventually). None of it was more garbage than any other first draft.
In fact, the more often I do these fast writes, the better they get. Like every art, practice increases a writer’s dexterity and creativity. It certainly does not lesson either.
As far as trying it when you “have time,” that is exactly the point of the challenge. If you don’t “have” time to do what you love, learn to make it. For instance, I’ve written this post while entertaining a squirmy 7 month old, first in her high chair beside me then on my lap dropping her toys. with an intermission to watch the birdies and to explore Grandma’s herb shelf. She likes to feel the chives.
I don’t “have time” for Nanowrimo. I make time for it because it’s helpful to me, it advances my career, and because I can and will. I also love to challenge myself.
No gate-keeping from the family, by the way. Writing is my love and my career, and it’s my job to make time for it.
The only real reason I can see for not doing it is simply because you don’t want to.
I have to sigh whenever someone comes up to me at a book signing and says, “I’d write a book if I had time.” *eye roll inserted here* You make time for what matters. Until you give it a good try, you just don’t know what you can accomplish.
By the way, I can write 2,000 words in an hour when I’m on a roll, so it’s not much time out of my busy day.
Whatever it is you love, make time for it! It’s worth it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
This writer hates the cold. I mean I hate the cold with a lingering unforgiving passion. Still, I found myself shrugging at the people who think they’re tough because they dumped a bucket of ice water over their heads. Eh. I went to swimming lessons every summer as a kid at 7 am and jumped in that near-freezing cold water and stayed in it until I was too numb to know how freaking COLD it was. And still, I went back and back and back again until I earned my junior lifesaving status.
Ice water bucket challenge over in about 5 seconds? Yeah, I could. (And in all honesty, I give kudos to those doing so and helping to spread the word about ALS, especially when they get creative with it.)
So last night, after a few days of thinking: don’t challenge me, please. I could do it, but I don’t want to film it… I was lying in my warm comfy bed considering the challenge. Then, the idea. I have an ice bucket challenge of my own, specifically for my fellow writers.
Write a blog-length story having to do with an Ice Bucket. No long planning. No over-thinking. Just open up your blog and start writing a story. Keep it short. I guess I better do the same to get it started. Here goes:
There I was, minding my own darn business, when Wham! Out of the blue, that crazy-eyed pigeon slammed right into my head. Yes, my head. How did I know he was crazy-eyed? Just trust me on this. Okay?
After I shook off the shock, I stared down at the crazy bird that apparently left itself stunned – I did say it slammed into my head, right? – and considered whether it had, I don’t know, rabies or bird flu or whatever. Could you catch that with a slam upside the head? Probably not, I suspected.
What did you do with a stunned crazy-eyed pigeon lying there helplessly on the sidewalk where it was sure to get stepped on by some kid bobbing his head listening to his too-loud headphones and his eyes half closed? On the other hand, I wasn’t too sure I cared. I was working on a good headache, either from the slam or from grabbing furiously at my hair trying to make sure the pest hadn’t left feathers or bugs or worse in the course, wiry mess that I’d fixed the best I could, considering, for an interview. All I needed, on top of being so nervous I hardly remembered my name, before going into the job interview was pigeon goo on my head.
”You hurt it! Look! This guy hurt that poor bird.”
”What?” I looked at the crazy girl screeching in my face and wondered if the thing on the sidewalk was her pet. I could just imagine she was the type to make a pigeon a pet. Of course by now she had people staring at me like I was, I don’t know, satan’s twin or something.
“Don’t call me lady. Look what you did. Do you hate animals? You’re an animal hater, right? I bet you are. What did you do to it? It’s just trying to survive, you know.” Her dander was rising faster than a wig on the downslope of a steep roller coaster. I kept watching for her to literally blow steam through her nose.
”Look.” I tried again, with no identity tags at all. “I did nothing. That thing…”
”It has feelings, too. It’s not a thing.”
”I think it might not have anymore.” I shouldn’t have said it. Really, I shouldn’t have. But this nutty girl was getting far too many nerves pulsing through my pounding head.
Her pitch rose. Her intensity likely would have shattered my eyeglasses had I been wearing them. “Wow, get a grip.” Also the wrong thing to say, but I was tired of the slamming, pounding, throbbing, and screaming, from both the bird and this chick, and…
Woosh! Ice water flooded over my head and down my now soaked and shivering body and I turned to yet another chick. “What was that for? I didn’t hurt the stupid bird!”
She only grinned with a shrug and set the bucket beside her. “You had bird doo in your hair.”
Silence. Blessed silence followed my unearned ice bath water. The shrieking girl giggled, picked up the now soaked and sobering pigeon, and left me alone, with the crowd following.
Bucket girl shrugged again. “Fixed your problem, didn’t I?”
The best thing about that story? When I explained at the interview the whole story of the pigeon slam and shrieking girl and bucket girl, I was hired on the spot. After long days of happily busying myself writing about the funny things that happen randomly in life, I get to go home to bucket girl and our purely practical but with good humor twin girls, neither of which shriek, I’m happy to report. Both of whom just love pigeons. Sigh.
There you have it. A straight through, not-much-thought ice bucket story. I now challenge my BookSpa writing group and my Western PA authors group to write your ice bucket story on your blog or send $10 to ALS. You have three days to fulfill the challenge. Be sure to challenge your author pals and leave a link here in the comments so we can find your stories!
Personal note: Along with the story, I’ll be donating to a high school friend’s personal yearly ALS fundraiser. If you’d like to do the same, his page is HERE.