Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trick…or Treat?


Another Halloween is upon us and soon the little ones (and even the big ones) will be decked out in their costumes and clamoring from house to house in their attempts to fill their buckets full of candy.  This holiday was always a treat and sometimes I miss those fun-filled times with my boys… 
…when the weather is decent anyway.  When it’s very chilly and especially when it’s chilly with a touch of rain, you can have it.  I hear the rain pitter-pattering on the roof outside and I don’t envy the parents who will be out in this weather tomorrow night, should the rain decide to stick around.  That’s a real trick by Mother Nature.

This year we didn’t do much for Halloween, other than decorate the house and carve pumpkins.  Carving pumpkins has become a tradition, and a treat, I don’t believe I could stop if I wanted to...it’s too much of a challenge as we all do our best to outdo each other:

 We are past the age of trick-or-treating and unfortunately we weren’t able to make it to any Halloween parties this year.  We did attend a friend’s 50th birthday party where the decorations were as black as the clothing worn by all the guests.  I have since decided that when I turn 50, and if I agree to have a party thrown in my honor as a way to actually admit it, I will plead with all the guests to wear colorful clothes.  Please, please, please…prove to me that the age of 50 can be rich, lively and vibrant. 

We’re now at the end of yet another month and from here on out, the days will fly by at warp speed as I move into National Novel Writing Month, prepare for family gatherings for Thanksgiving, get all my shopping and baking done for Christmas and prepare to ring in another New Year.  Can you hear the countdown already?  Watching time fly by so fast without losing your grip…now that’s a real trick!

If you enjoy celebrating Halloween, have an enjoyable evening.  If this is a holiday you don’t recognize, have a terrific Thursday.  Either way, I hope you enjoy whatever tricks or treats find their way to you today.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Too busy? It’s time to slow down!


You ever have one of those days when you just don’t have much to say?
For me, today is one of those days.

It’s odd to say that, really, considering how much has been going on lately.  However, what’s going on isn’t as much about writing as it is about life in general.  I’ve taken the month of October off from writing because I’m joining National Novel Writing Month in November and because I wanted the time to catch up on other projects before I get deep into writing again.  The month of October is just about over and when I think about what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past month, I realize I haven’t checked many items off that to-do list.  I found this quote and it is spot on:

“Sometimes it seems your ever-increasing list of things to do

can leave you feeling totally undone.”

  ~Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, I'd Kill for a Cookie~

Personally, this month has been full of many other distractions instead:  spending time with family after the death of my aunt; a friend’s 50th birthday party; my mother-in-law’s birthday; my sister-in-law’s birthday; excitement as I continuously wait for news relating to the soon-to-be arrival of my niece;  health concerns relating to my grandmother; a trip out of town; a busy, busy time at work as I prepare for some upcoming leave and, of course, the book signing and the time spent marketing my second book.  The month of October has extracted many thoughts and emotions from me and days like today I know I should listen to advice such as this:

"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."  ~Lily Tomlin~

 
So today, after what has been a fairly busy month, when I try to think about what I might like to blog about, I feel at a loss for words.  And yet, I could continue to write about not having anything to say.  Well, I am a writer and writers write, even when they have nothing to write about.  However, I won’t ramble more than I need to.  It’s time to step away from the computer and give my brain a rest as I try to live by this last little tidbit: 

"The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." 

~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris~


 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A “Dear Paula” letter from Amazon…


I received an e-mail the other day from Amazon.  It began, “Dear Paula…”
Yes, we’re very good friends. 

No, it wasn't a “Dear John” letter.
All jokes aside, it came to me as a reader, not as an author, asking whether I was looking for something in their mystery, thriller and suspense books department, since I visit there often enough.  The e-mail continued by saying that if I was, I might be interested in these items:

 


The list contained a total of fourteen books but because Best Kept Secrets is first on the list, it was also listed in the subject line of the e-mail.  I don’t know how many mystery-loving Amazon customers received this e-mail but it’s just one more reason I love working with Amazon.  Yes, I said love.  I know it’s a strong word but they provide to me what other large book retailers do not: free marketing to who knows how many potential readers. 
Say it with me now…free marketing.

Some say nothing is ever free and of course, Amazon has their own agenda; they want to make money.  Who doesn’t in this business?  Point is, if they make money by marketing my work and the work of other authors, it also means the authors make money.  It’s a win-win situation for all involved.
What Amazon does for me as an author is one of the reasons I decided to leave the eBook for Best Kept Secrets exclusively with them for the first 90 days.  After that, I may decide to also make it available for the Nook and other devices but honestly, I may not.  Sales for the Kindle were much, much better than Nook sales after No Mother of Mine was released, more than four times better.  In looking at the sales reports now for the past two months, No Mother of Mine is selling double on the Kindle than on the Nook and while that’s a much closer gap to overcome, it may widen again as Amazon continues to market the eBook version of my books while the Nook eBook is not getting similar treatment.   

I have a few months to decide but for now, I’m extremely pleased with my decision to continue working with Amazon because they do what others in this business tend not to find time for…provide a helping hand to a struggling new author who only wishes to get her name out there.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Books, Books and More Books


I decided to take a mini road trip yesterday down to Portland to visit Powell’s Books.  It was, as it always is, a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.  The trip also involved a visit to Lloyd’s Center and dinner out but the visit to Powell’s was the highlight of my day.
It’s amazing how long I can scour the shelves for just the right books, rummage through multiple titles of my favorite authors, scan the shelves for new reading possibilities and still want more time when the allotted time is up.  We had a three-hour maximum for our parking space some five or six blocks away and I was surprised when I discovered two hours had already passed.  By that time I’d only been able to visit the journal section, the reference section for writers and the mystery section…as well as the café where I purchased a Chai tea and a very delicious ginger molasses cookie. 

What is it about just being in the presence of books that can give someone so much comfort and contentment?  The store was packed with visitors so we were surrounded with other like minds but what about those who don’t quite understand what the big deal is all about?  Who hardly, if ever, step foot inside a book store or a library?  Who never even open a book unless it’s a manual to fix something around the house or a book necessary for a class they may be taking?  Is there any way to make them understand just how wonderful it is to get lost in a great story, become privy to the lives of characters who seem like real people, find comfort with the knowledge that we’re not the only ones who deal with difficult circumstances, or feel excitement when we bury ourselves in an imaginative and fascinating make-believe world?
Many might say it’s in the way we’re brought up but I would have to disagree with that idea.  I found I loved books at a very early age and I’ve been a reader ever since.  It’s just something I took a liking to and I never turned away from.  As I raised my sons, they were both always surrounded by my books and my need to read and as they learned to read, I enjoyed taking them to the bookstore and letting them pick out their own books.  Both my boys were brought up the same way…I enjoyed reading to them when they were young, making it a routine to let them choose a book so I could read to them every night before they went to bed.  When they were both in grade school and had to earn their AR points, I made sure they were both on task and reading at least twenty minutes every day.  I believe they both enjoyed the quality time as we read books together.  But around middle school is where I believe the fork in the road came about.  One of my boys took one road, while the other decided on another path.  One of my boys loves to read books as much as I do, while the other will only look at a book if it’s something he’s tasked to do.  Both have bookshelves in their rooms but while one is loaded with books, the other is full of school yearbooks and sports trophies. 

It’s just the way it turns out sometimes.  Some people love books and find great pleasure in reading; others just don’t.  There’s really no rhyme or reason to it, I don’t think.  My boys have proven that to me.  And that’s okay.  Some people turn to books while others find other outlets.   
While I also have other outlets to get through the day, to let off steam or to end each day on a positive note, I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have books, to not always be in the middle of a book and now, to not be writing a book. 

For those very reasons, I find delight while visiting places like Powell’s Books.  It satisfies my need as a reader, adds fire to my creative soul and calms my spirit with blissful contentment.
I can’t wait to go back!

 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tenino, as Jorja sees it...


When I first decided to write a series, I really didn’t have to think very long before I decided to use a real town as the setting where my characters would live and work.  The town of Tenino is a town close to my heart and one I know very well, which makes writing about it that much easier.  However, while I may refer to real local businesses or non-profits from time to time, I’m using the town of Tenino as the setting in name only, while the characters and most of the businesses in my books are fictional. 

I recently had a conversation with someone who read my first book and who is acquainted with the town of Tenino.  She admitted she had a difficult time trying to place the location of Books ‘N Brew (since Tenino doesn’t even have a book store), as well as a few other businesses I have added to my story.  That got me to thinking…I should create a map so everyone can see Tenino as Jorja sees it.  Whether you know Tenino or not, I can understand how reading about the placement of businesses and homes without being able to visualize them can be difficult without a little help. 

So I played around a bit and came up with this simple map…
 
It’s not to scale, in relation to the real town of Tenino, but it is based on the fictional town of Tenino as it has been created for the benefit of Jorja and the other characters.  While some buildings are in similar areas on the map as their real counterparts, I’ve dropped my fictional businesses smack in the middle of it all…Books ‘N Brew, Hillcrest, Sandra’s Salon & Spa, Dylan’s Sweet Delights, Courtney’s Courtyard and the Timely Independent.  I’ll add more businesses and maybe even give those generically in place an actual name, but for now, I hope it gives you a better visual of the fictional version of Tenino as Jorja sees it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday…a day to rest and take it all in.


I made it through another book signing.  Even with my anxiety nudging me about the ‘what if’s’ and at least one dream I had about words printed backwards in my book, it went well, the event was fun and before I knew it…the day was over. 
There was only one unexpected incident when a customer accidentally knocked over a wine bottle sitting on a nearby wine barrel.  Thankfully, the book display we had placed near the area was at an angle and far enough away so that it wasn’t struck by the spray of red wine and shards of glass but it sure did make a mess on the floor.  The manager, who I can’t say enough positive things about, kept his upbeat attitude in place as he helped to clean up the area and then he added some humor to the situation by placing this cute announcement on the floor in the middle of the ‘watch your step’ cones:

 


As with the other book signings – and I was wrong, this is actually my fifth event because I completely forgot to include Lakefair as a signing event – I met new people and was also able to put faces to names of those who I only knew through Facebook or some other means.  Some who stopped by had been waiting for the second book ever since they purchased the first when it came out a year ago and others were lucky enough to have only waited since purchasing the book at Lakefair in July.  I also met some readers who were either taking the book with them as they traveled back home out of state or were sending the book to someone else who lived out of state.  A few admitted to me they were buying the book, or both books, as gifts but only after they read them first (sharing is caring so that’s okay with me).  Another kind lady who stopped by had decided to purchase both books as a gift for a co-worker who is retiring on Halloween (what a great idea!). 
One funny moment was towards the end of the event when a gal ran into the store short of breath and worried she might have missed the signing because she was late after the battery in her car had to be jump started.  She was glad I was still there and that she could still purchase a signed copy of the books.  My husband, my mom and my aunt were all standing nearby as she explained what had happened with her car and then the subject changed as she was fanning through the books and happened to catch sight of the name ‘Lydia.’  She then informed us that her name was Lydia and I had to laugh when the looks on my husband’s, my mom’s and my aunt’s face all mirrored each other as they said, ‘Oh…Lydia.”  You can bet Lydia was very curious as to why all three of them commented in the same way, and with an expression she probably couldn’t quite figure out the meaning of.  I’ll be curious what her own thoughts are about Lydia after she finishes the first book.

Another great experience is over and now it’s time to move on to the next.  I’m going to continue to take a break from writing during the month of October but I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month when I’ll work on a draft of at least the first 50,000 words in the third book.  I’m also thinking of some ideas for my first book give-away contest – I haven’t used that idea yet but it sounds like fun so be on the lookout for a contest in the near future. 
Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on how the signing went, I’m struck by the fact that Monday will be here much too soon so I’m off to enjoy the rest of my day.  Until next time…

 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Book Signing Event is just days away!


Hmm, wonder what I should blog about this evening?

That’s an easy question to answer.  You know with a book signing just days away, there’s really not much else on my mind.  Okay, I admit, there’s always a lot on my mind but still…the signing takes over many of my thoughts.
But all is good.  The venue has been chosen, the date is set in stone and I’ve invited everyone and their mother with high hopes that my first signing for Best Kept Secrets will be an even better success than the first time around for No Mother of Mine.  How I’m feeling this time around is much different than how I felt as I prepared for my very first signing.  I just read one of the posts I wrote as I was preparing for that event; boy, was I a mess!  I’m really not too stressed about this upcoming event (at least not today).  This is my fourth book signing event so maybe I’m starting to get the hang of it. 

One can only hope.
I’ve made my lists and checked them twice.  The store manager has done what he said he’d do and I’ve done my part, as well.  The posters are on the doors, the flyers will continue to be handed out every day to potential readers, and my name is, yet again, up in lights…or at least on a reader board where many cars will pass it every day. 

Oh, and most important, boxes of new books just for this event have arrived.  There is nothing prettier than a full box of brand new books.
 
So what else is there to do?  Well, continue to get the word out, is all I can think of.  I’ve said it somewhere before, whether here or on Facebook or maybe to those who receive my e-mails, but this will likely be the only book signing I’ll have between now and the first of the year.  So if you’d like to get a signed copy of the book, I certainly hope you’ll be able to make time to stop by to see me at Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia this Saturday.  For those who do buy books at this signing, the books will be on sale for a special rate during the signing only, so don’t miss out! 

I’m really looking forward to Saturday – I hope I see you there.

 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

This one is for Aunt Lana


Our family assembled together today to share memories and unite in commemoration after the loss of a very special lady.  It’s never easy to say goodbye, especially when the person leaving has touched so many in such a remarkable way.  Her children and grandchildren shared how much they loved her and what most they’ll miss about her and I really doubt there was a dry eye in the room.  The extreme sadness felt by all, as it finally hits home that her physical presence is no more, is just a true testament to how special she was to everyone and how much she will be missed. 
I’ll miss Aunt Lana for her unfailing love, her constant smile and her very unique sense of humor.  Something else I will miss about her is her love for sending cards…in the mail.  Not an e-mail, not a message via Facebook and not a text, although she was great at communicating that way as well.  But I’m talking about a real, paper card in an envelope with a stamp on it.  People just don’t do that anymore, do they?  Even better, with Aunt Lana, was the fact that you’d get a good laugh once you realized too late she’d filled the envelope full of confetti.  There were Christmas cards, of course, and birthday cards, but she’d also send cards for other holidays and ‘just because.’  She’d mail cards to say ‘thank you’ after she attended an event we invited her to take part in.  She’d mail cards to say ‘thank you’ after we attended something she invited us to.  She’d send a card to say ‘thank you’ or maybe ‘you’re welcome’ even after she received a card from us telling her thank you. 

She was just special that way. 
She reminds me of my Aunt Mariea in that regard.  I used to look for special stationary or cute cards I thought Aunt Mariea might like that I’d use to write letters with updates about our family along with the latest photos of our boys.  Even now, when I’m browsing a store and happen to see a nice stationary set or some very cute note cards, my first thought is always, “Aunt Mariea would really like those.”  

No longer getting cards from Aunt Mariea is something I’ve missed since she passed and now I’ll miss the same from Aunt Lana.  There are many reasons why Aunt Lana will be missed and while her thoughtfulness with cards is not the most important, it’s just one of the many ways she was unique and that I was fond of.  It is those simple acts of kindness, over and over again, that she put forth so effortlessly and that we were all thankful for, which made her such a special lady who will always have a place in my heart.  
I will miss you, Aunt Lana, forever and always.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Next book signing is almost here!


Once I knew Best Kept Secrets was out there and available, I also knew I’d probably be using the month of October to take care of others tasks, which would leave my writing on the back burner for the month.
It’s a good thing I already had that mindset or I’d be going stir crazy.


I really want to get started on the third book but realistically, I need to spend time working on the business side of writing for a few weeks before I get to move back into the creative side of things in full force.  The business side of writing has kept me busy lately so I really doubt I’d be able to find good quality time to write.  This just gives me even more of a reason to join National Novel Writing Month next month so that I can get a good jump on the third book with at least 50,000 words.
But right now, I’m preparing for my first book signing for Best Kept Secrets.  I feel more excited as we near the date but then I get very nervous, certain I must be forgetting something I won’t remember until just the day before.  Or worse, I’ll have some bad dream the night before about something I feel I must remember when I wake and then *poof!* the thoughts will be gone as soon as I’m released from the world of dreams.  Of course, I doubt I’ll forget anything but that’s just the way my brain works.  It’s a good thing I keep track of everything – I can look back on past signings to make my list and check it twice.  That’s also how my brain works…lists, upon lists, upon lists!

So, for those who are local to the Olympia area (or within a relatively close distance), I’m having a book signing this month so mark your calendars if you’d like to come by to see me:
Ralph’s Thriftway on East 4th Avenue
Saturday, October 12th
11 am – 2 pm

For those who attend the signing, Ralph’s Thriftway will be offering the book at a reduced rate during the event only so don’t miss out on getting your signed copy at a decently priced rate.  Copies of No Mother of Mine will also be on hand for anyone who has not yet obtained the first book in the series.
If you know anyone who likes mysteries, don’t forget to tell them about me, the book signing and my new series.  Or, even better, the holidays are coming up...know anyone who would love to receive a signed copy of the first two books in a mystery series? 

It’s just a thought.
Have a great night!