Easter's Lilly

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving time!

Well, I think it’s that time: Time for a bigger house. Why, you may ask me? Have any of you ever suddenly realized that your entire family is hanging out in the living room with you, all of the time, because there is nowhere else for them to go? It’s not that I don’t adore my boys, because I do, I simply think that perhaps an office might be in order. I am busily typing away when they start wrestling, yelling and dropping papers on my desk because they are in their way. Actually, I say “my desk” but what I really mean in the coffee table. I can’t really blame them. It’s a thousand degrees outside and they don’t have a playroom. They have simply outgrown our humble abode.

So now, the search is on. My husband is remodeling and repairing to make sure the house sells right out of the gate. It has been an unpleasant experience for him, I’m sure. Fortunately the boys are old enough now to mow the lawn and help out from time to time. We have a huge property, which they normally enjoy when it’s not so hot outside, but it wouldn’t hurt us to have a smaller outside to take care of.

We’ve been here for a long time now. What was originally supposed to be a two-year stop, ended up lasting almost eight years. And although we have grown quite fond of this tiny little town, it has become apparent that God has other plans.

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What sells books?

This question has been plaguing my brain for a few weeks now. Which form of marketing works the best? Is it book signings, social media, newspaper adds, virtual book tours, reviews, or is it just simply, word of mouth?  With bookstores closing faster than we can blink, book signings are no longer as popular as they used to be. That is, of course, unless your Steven King or Nora Roberts. It has been my experience that they will generally give you a place to sit (if you’re lucky) but that’s pretty much all they’ll do. We have to advertise, bring snacks and often bug passers- by to get their attention.  I even went to one bookstore where the manager promised me they would advertise for me and barely left me a dirty tray table at which to sit where I could sign my pretty new books. I was never more grateful that I brought my own sign.

So far, it has been my experience, that word of mouth is the best seller. There are many ways for this to happen. People will tell people if they liked your book and will want to share it with their friends. Reviews about your work will undoubtedly sway readers from time to time, although not always. When purchasing a book online, our natural curiosity often causes us to read what other people have to say about the novel. Again…word of mouth. Virtual book tours can boost sales if done properly. If your demographic is truly represented by the bloggers who are chosen to review your work, word will spread like wildfire and everyone will want to know what all the excitement is about. Now don’t get me wrong. Someone out there will not like your book. You know what they say…you can’t please everyone, so why try. But bad reviews can boost your sales as well. When giving bad reviews, reviewers tend to have a lot to say and they reveal things about the novel that often peek the interest of others. It is often as though they feel they need to justify themselves for the one or two stars they give you and in the process reveal a lot of the good stuff that maybe they just had a personal distaste for. So word or mouth, whether it be good or bad, can still be beneficial.

Although I will still try to find my niche in the world of book signings, until I am popular enough for someone to arrange these things for me of course, (she says hopefully) I suppose I will go back from time to time to the place with no sign and the dirty tray table and just learn to bring my own next time.

"I'm not interested in pleasing the critics. I'll take my chances pleasing the audiences." Walt Disney


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Church Camp

My boys are going to church camp. Actually three of the four are going. I am a nervous wreck. The last time my boys went on a field trip, there was some kind of accident and I found out about it on the news. Yes…on the news. Thank the good Lord that nothing happened to them, but still… a little gun shy.

I know I complain sometimes about my “me time” or lack there of, as I’m sure most of us busy moms do from time to time; but a whole week…how will I do it? I suppose I could do something constructive like finish a novel…you know, the one I’m writing and perhaps the one I’m reading.  Maybe I’ll sleep later and cook less food and even take my youngest son out a time or two while the others are gone.  There is no doubt that I will worry, worry, worry and pray, pray, pray until they return safely into our waiting arms.

So I am glad that they will be having a lot of fun, playing games, competing in sports and worshiping with their peers.  But truth be told, motherhood has been the greatest reward of this turbulent cycle of life. Although I realize letting go is part of it, I’m glad I still have a little more time to coddle, cuddle and over-protect.

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” Tenneva Jordan.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Little "Me" Time

 Alarm goes off at 5:30am and then…the day begins. Breakfast for hubby, pray for hubby, back to bed, feed the kids, exercise, feed myself, shower, Wal-Mart (way too often), lunch for kids, lunch for myself, drive the kids to wherever it is they need to go, marketing (when I have time), writing (when it’s possible), dinner for family, time alone with hubby…maybe. I think it is clear. Time to make a schedule.

With our lives becoming as busy as they are, time is golden.  Even when I think I’m going to end up with a time block in which to write, I end up doing something else. I have discovered that time with the family is becoming increasingly more difficult to secure. Sometimes I look upon the pile of laundry that is mine (and my husband’s) and think to myself…really?

I used to consider myself to be very organized: Almost meticulous. Now it’s more like, “Mommy, would you hold onto this for me?” And I say, “NO! You know I’m just going to lose it.” When did that happen? When did I become that person?

I think when there is too much going on, something’s gotta give. There is no doubt that it should not be the family. So what do I think I need to do about this? Plan a little better, wake up a little earlier and schedule all things that need to be done each week. It can be done. Really…it can.

So for those mom’s out there with a full time job, children, a husband and a million other chores in your future, I salute you. Being a mom is the most challenging and most rewarding job you will ever love.

"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" Milton Berle

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Marketing

“No one loves your book more than you,” is the quote I got when I went to a marketing class on how to market your own book. “No one knows your book better than you,” they go on to say. “Who better to market your book than you?”

Although I am very blessed that my publisher puts my books all over the world for me, (thank goodness), I still have to do a lot of my own legwork. My understanding is that these days, author’s doing their own marketing, is more of the norm, rather than the unusual.  Running around with my book in my hand, asking people to let me do signings, or handing out first chapters in hopes that someone will read them and love them, does not come easy for me.  Of course I love my books. I love my characters and have become very attached to them. As a matter of fact, when it was suggested to me to let the series go, because it was too untraditional, I couldn’t imagine putting Lilly to rest before she has even been out of the gate.

I have learned a few tricks over the past few months, thanks to my very kind and more experienced writer friends, but still I must confess that there is so much more that I need to learn. Press packages, bookmarks, printers, posters, who will let you do signings, who won’t…are all things I have yet to learn. Time is of course, a major part of good marketing. Finding the time to spend on it is crucial and those of us with children, husbands or significant others and jobs know…time is a word not often in our vocabularies. But I have seen it done and am optimistic that learning as I go can be successfully accomplished.

Thank you to all of you who have helped me with new ideas and opportunities.

“Ah but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.” -Robert Browning

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Little Situation

Those of you who know me, know that I’ve been looking feverishly for a full time job. Although being a full time mom and writer is truly my dream, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves. I was feeling a little blue about my failure to find financial freedom when I realized that maybe this is simply not in the cards. After all, my first book was just released six months ago with book two hot on its heels. The rest of the series will follow as I find the time to finish and refine. It appears that I may be seeking to tie my own hands.

Although my husband considers me to be quite a looker, employers in a sluggish economy beg to differ. I see the cute young girls with their short skirts and high heels buzzing about their new jobs while I get a simple, “We’ll be in touch.”

So I suppose it’s time to look at this in a more positive light. Yes there is one!

I do have a job as a substitute teacher, which I love, but obviously not in the summer. Using this time off to complete some of my compiled creations would be a much better use of my time than spending hours on the computer filling out faceless applications. I’ll work almost all the time once school begins in the fall, giving me a suitable schedule to write with no weekends. Besides, I love the kids in the ISD and spending time with them is a blessing in so many ways.

So maybe it’s not so bad after all. Sometimes I think God’s plan is a little better than my own. Imagine that.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Finding Your Voice

So Easter’s Lilly is on tour, virtually speaking. When I look back on my writing process, I do have to wonder why I didn’t think to go with a more traditional style when I wrote my novels. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fight and break up, boy and girl are reunited in the end and all is right with the world. No, not me. Not that I’ve every really been very traditional. I wrote the entire series in the first person, which is also not very mainstream and the story line is very “soapy” so to speak. I’ve had a few very young reviewers not understand it but pretty much most people of maturity really find it to be a crazy ride. I love my characters as though they were real people and can’t imagine my life without them now. 

Do I regret finding my voice and leaping out of the boat with an untraditional storytelling style? Not one bit. I have found that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. So if you’re a writer and your voice isn’t “traditional” or “normal,” follow your heart and continue to love what you write. Personally, I think as long as you love what you write; other people will love it too.

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. - William Wordsworth

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Games and our children

Have you opened the window and let the devil in? Sometimes that’s how I feel about the gaming system my children have talked us into buying them. Before games I would find my boys all over the house, in all kinds of positions, reading books by the dozen.  “Mom, can you buy me the new Rick Riordan book?” or “Mommy, I need the new Goosebumps book!” Now it’s, “Why can’t I get the new Black Ops game?” Yuck! Where did all the reading go? How do we re-stimulate their minds?

My generation didn’t really have games. We played pinball or packman (yes, I realize I’m dating myself) but it was never the priority it has become today. With summer approaching, I suspect I had better start some kind of reading program at home or look for one at a local library. It is an inevitable part of life, nowadays. Technology is rapidly taking over our society. How to get the games under control…still a work in progress.