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Goodreads Book Giveaway
Giveaway ends June 04, 2017.
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Today is the launch for Chasing Magic, the Fantasy anthology my short story, Briar Rose, is in! There’s a ton of fabulous stories that I can’t wait to read included. Please read more about the book, and then come join us on Facebook, where there will be some great giveaway prizes! More about the book:
CWPH presents twenty-two Fantasy stories by international authors, both established and new to the trade. This collection features some of the familiar elements with a twist—from elves and unicorns to witches, talking trees, and dragons—mixed with reworkings of some classics from previously unexplored perspectives and new fantastical tales with their own distinct flavor.
Delve into these extraordinary worlds and experience the magic, mayhem, mystery, and wonder of Chasing Magic.
Laura Callender ~ Amanda Linsmeier ~ M.W. King ~ Amanda Luzzader ~ Liz Butcher ~ AJ Millen ~ Michael R. Baker ~ W.S. Moye ~ Jennifer Della’Zanna ~ Kathrin Hutson ~ Stacey Jaine McIntosh ~ Heather Holmes ~ Mary Lucille Hays ~ Kevin Grover ~ Jason Pere ~ Kelly Matsuura ~ Jeremy Gohier ~ Britt Haraway ~ Phoebe Darqueling ~ AE Stueve ~ E.R. Smo ~ CL Steele
Story Excerpts are here, including mine!
I’ll be on at 10:30 CST to post a couple giveaways. Please come check it out! Best part? You don’t even have to leave the house 😉
Today, coming off a wonderful talk last night by New York Times Bestselling author Elizabeth Berg, I want to talk a little bit about the importance of being inspired.
I am not speaking of the kind of inspired that comes when you actually are at your computer/typewriter/notebook and magical stuff pours out of you onto the screen/page. What I mean in this case is being inspired by other writers, books, and the literary community in general. Being inspired in your life.
As a public library employee, I get to be surrounded by books all the time. How lucky am I?? I see the best of the best, the prettiest of the pretty, the newest of the new, the shiny, the beloved, the sought-after, the bestsellers, the trendy, the classics, the ones we love to hate. I see books that inspire me by their gorgeous covers, by the titles, the descriptions. I flip open books to the back to read author acknowledgment pages, to remind me that they are indeed human, and not these God-like creatures I tend to worship (and I even am an author! Why do I forget that they are just people?), and I add more and more to my “to be read” list for checking out at a later date, or, on many days, I walk out of work with my purse overflowing with books, and my arms aching. Just doing my job inspires me every day, because I get to see, feel, and think about great works. I think of new ideas all the time. I get envious, wonderfully so, over books I pick up. When I think, Ahh! Why didn’t I write this book, first? I already feel a kinship with that author and that work.
Besides being at a library as an employee, I get to go to events and partake in library services as a patron. For FREE! (I promise to write more about why I love public libraries, so much, but if you can’t tell already here, I do. And that post is coming). A fellow writer and friend told me about author Elizabeth Berg’s upcoming appearance a few months ago. I registered for her workshop/lecture, and began noticing the influx of Berg books coming through the library in anticipation of the event, each looked better than the next. I already owned, and recently read The Last Time I Saw You, but I have already added many of her (over 20!) books to my TBR list. Dream Lover is up after I enjoy Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing Time, which I had autographed last night. But back to the event. I was nervous, and excited. I was ready to be inspired.
Elizabeth Berg was lovely. She was warm, funny, and insightful. She spoke about the importance of dialogue, setting, and character. She talked about taking time to notice things. Look at people from head to toe. Look at rooms from floor to ceiling. She said we all need to tune in to the world around us, “let your whimsy kick in” and ask ourselves what things remind us of. She spoke a bit about her own experiences with writing and publishing, and gave excellent advice for the many writers in the crowd (of some 80-ish people). I even asked a question- how could I pass up personal advice from a great writer?!- wanting her take on abandoning partially-written novels if you have lost the passion on them. She smiled, and said a lot of the time, that means a break-through is right around the corner. She said even if I want to throw it out, or give up on it (I’m looking at you NANOWRIMO 2012), that I shouldn’t literally throw it out, or burn it, or delete it. That I might be able to salvage parts of it. Excellent advice. But you know what was almost the best part?
It was that I recognized a part of myself in her. This successful, well-known, written more than TWENTY BOOKS author. I recognized a similar style in writing. A plotter, she is not. I recognized the joy in writing in more than one genre. I recognized something in her that gave me hope that I can sustain a career in this sometimes difficult, but always wonderful, world of writing. I saw her speaking, and thought, I could be on that side in the future. I am still starting out. I am still a beginner. I still recognize, and cringe, at the newbie mistakes in my early writing, in my debut novel, as proud of it as I am. I still see so much I’d change. I still think, I can do better. I will do better. I have greatness inside me. I still think, and hope all this to be true. Seeing this author speak, when I had just a glimpse of myself as a writer in her, was more than inspiring.
I was strangely nervous walking up to the table to see Elizabeth. I was sweating. I got both my books signed, and my co-worker who had set up the event, said to Elizabeth that she had just finished my book and loved it (aw, thanks!), and I stammered out that yes, it was published last year. I mentioned to her that I am looking forward to reading her short stories, and aren’t short stories just underappreciated in general, and why is that? And she agreed! I then, like a total nerd, asked for a picture, and she said yes. So cool.
(Plus, look! We both like long necklaces!)
I left the event with a few favorite new poems (including this one), a list of more novels to read, a reminder to myself to read her short story collections (because you know I love those!), a page of notes I’d scribbled as she spoke, and a fluttering, high-energy feeling. I recognized it. It is the same feeling I’ve had upon leaving particularly great critique group meetings, or writing conferences. If you’ve had it, you know exactly what I mean. It’s this excited, happy energy, inspiration-overload feeling. But in a good way, overload. It made me want to go home and WRITE. To paint. To dream. It was me connecting, not just with that author, but with a whole group of strangers (mostly), who wanted that same feeling. To create. To take what is inside us, and put it outside.
That got me thinking that this feeling is really something that needs to be experienced more often. This public event was free, as stated above. And it’s not difficult to find other events like it. My library hosts author book discussions once a month. There’s a free writers group there. And another within the community. There’s poetry and storytelling night tomorrow. There’s writers conferences in my state, at least three of them every year. There’s so many opportunities to connect with other creative thinkers.
Now, I don’t downplay the importance of internet communities. I have many e-friends, both writing, and not, who are FREAKING AMAZING. I leave conversations online, feeling energized and excited. But. And I say this gently, getting a creative inspiration in person is rarer (for me, at least), and again, for me, more powerful. I can look at a painting online, and fall in love with it. But being in an art museum, standing 6 inches from something great, is truly awe-inspiring. That’s why it’s important to try to make some kind of connection “in real life” as internet-savvy people say. As in, your physical world. Go to museums, join writing groups, go to a poetry reading. If you’re too nervous to read, just listen. Go see live music. GO TO YOUR LIBRARY! Look at the events calendar. If there’s nothing like the events I mentioned before, ask to start your own. For a minimal fee, or more likely free, you can start groups at your library. Put an ad in your newspaper, or start a group on Facebook that will meet IRL. Be it writing groups, or a book club, or anything creative. It’s amazing how like a battery charge, you will feel rejuvenated after these things. And that will reflect and manifest in your writing.
Tell me, when’s the last time you had that wonderful, inspiring feeling from a writer (or artist or anything) around you? Do you have any ideas for more creative inspiration?
For more on Elizabeth Berg visit her website.
My novel Ditch Flowers was released on September 28th, 2015. It was an amazing milestone in my life, and one I planned on celebrating. I knew I wanted a book launch party. I had been to one years earlier for my friend Tara Meissner, and remembered how celebratory it was. Problem was, and it was a good problem, I had a major life event happen FOUR days after my book was released (um, being the birth of my third child, who happened to be stationed at my hip for most of the party). So there was not a chance I would be leaving my postpartum sweatpants and getting dolled up for a party. Not to mention all the other things that go into party planning! I knew I’d need some time to get through the sleep deprivation and the celebration would just have to wait.
And wait, it did. We had my book launch on Saturday. It was nice visiting with my friends, and family. And it was a very cool feeling knowing we were celebrating my debut novel. For those of you who’ve wandered over here for inspiration for your own affordable book launches, I’m including pretty much every detail for you! But, you know what stinks? I was so busy getting the party prepped, and so busy/distracted being at the actual party, I took only a few photos. I was so disappointed to realize that once I got home that evening! My friend sent me her fuzzy cell phone shots (thank you!), so I have those plus some I took myself. I didn’t even snap any pics with friends! None of my blown-up book cover on an easel! But, fret not. At least I got a few 🙂
With that, let me get started. First, the invites. Yes, I love paper invites. I actually get giddy over some paper products. Give me a brand new journal or pretty stationary and ::swoon::. But, I was on a tight budget and timeline. So, e-vite it was. There was no way I was dicking around with making invites, so my friend Megan from Chalkboards For Littles made this stunner, and I simply uploaded it to an e-vite site. Side note- only bad thing, I know for a fact a few people did not actually receive their email invites so make sure you double check your addresses. But, back to Megan, my invite wiz. She does a lot of cute stuff for kids birthdays also, and she takes custom orders. Visit her on Etsy!
So where did I end up having it? I had agonized over the location. Where could I hold the party without breaking the bank? Definite not outside because a.Wisconsin, and b. March. I was going to go with a cozy Irish bar or the yacht club (my friend is a member and could get a deal), but then my absolutely fabulous friend from book club offered to let us have it at her gorgeous home. Yay!!
So the time, date, invites were set. Then, I had a ton of planning. What would I do for giveaways? What about making a few things myself? Flowers were easy- purchased from the grocery store, three bundles for 12.99. I put them in my own vases. The purple are called wax flowers, the white of course, daisies, the green-ish yellow? No clue, however I loved that they looked like ditch flowers!
For giveaway items, and things to include on my book selling table, I ordered mugs from Vistaprint. I also wanted to sell and give candles, but it was so difficult to find plain Jasmine-scented candles to tie into the book, so I decided to make my own. Plus, I’m thrifty. I hand-poured these, ya’ll, and let them rest on my kitchen counter overnight.
Everything was set up just so, and I included a bowl for people to throw in their names to win. The perk to making a purchase (of signed book, book-related candle, or mug) was that the buyer received a bonus entry into the giveaways! There were three giveaways, plus I gave a gift for my friend who held the party. In total I handed out these prizes: 2 boxes of Café du Monde beignet mix (again, book-related), 2 candles, 2 adult floral coloring books with pencils, 1 journal, 1 mug, and 1 Florence + the Machine cd (Lungs, because I listened to a lot of Florence while writing the book!)
A bit more decor. I saw the book page candle idea on Pinterest, so I can’t take credit, but I wanted to share how cute! Plus, not too difficult at all. Scissors, tape, and a book set to discard.
What about the food and drinks, you say? Read on…
At my grocery store if you buy 6 bottles of wine you get a 10% discount. I took advantage of that deal and got mostly Matthew Fox wine, which is only 2.99 a bottle (and it’s good!), plus brought a few bottles of my dad’s homemade wine to tie into the wine business from Ditch Flowers. The biggest woops of the party? We ran out of red! But, guests were easy-going and switched to white wine, or beer. I also provided soda, water, and sparkling lemonade (Aldi). My mother-in-law brought a carafe of coffee, along with homemade chocolate cheesecakes (mini!). Sorry, no pic. My parents made the gorgeous fruit and veggie trays. My step-mother-in-law made a b.l.t.dip that was apparently to die for. Since I don’t eat bacon, I’ll have to take the guests word for it. But really, they were harassing me for the recipe it was THAT good! I also had a cheese plate, including gouda, cheddar, dill Havarti, and blueberry goat cheese (all but the Havarti were from Aldi), and a meat plate with prosciutto, salami, and things like that. In addition, there was chips, crackers, garlic-stuffed olives, which were incorrectly labeled as blue cheese stuffed (Aldi, my only complaint), smoked salmon dip, hummus, and nuts. So, lots of finger food. Napkins, plates, faux-silver silverware came from the dollar store.
Now, what’s left? The outfit, of course! I am a fashionista, and I planned for months. MONTHS, I TELL YOU. Let’s just say, I changed my mind about my first two options! A. was going to be a Japanese silk floral kimono over a white tank, black skinny pants, and a jeweled clutch. That changed to option B. a tulle maxi skirt from Lauren Conrad and a graphic tee, heels, and that same clutch. But when I tried it on, I felt like a huge, fluffy cupcake. SO not figure flattering for me! And my husband said I looked like I belonged in 50s. So…option C was thrown together (after ALL that planning of A or B!) literally two hours before we left! I went with black cigarette pants (Apt 9), a chartreuse paisley sheer blouse (Banana Republic, from Goodwill) with tank (Target) and a rich green velvet beaded jacket (again, Goodwill!). Topped the look off with Juicy Couture crown earrings (Kohls), a J. Crew rhinestone headband, and my old, wonderful, affectionately-named “cow shoes”. I did keep the jeweled clutch from Anthropologie 😉
Oh, and I would have loved to wear my hair down but thanks to hormones, it’s falling out terribly, and I didn’t think my guests would appreciate hair all over them! The headband made it more than okay, though!
Fashion details are fun!
Nail polish? O.P.I.Tickle my France-y! My all-time tie for favorite manicure color.
Check out that pretty bag! And who doesn’t love a patterned shoe?
It really was fun celebrating my book launch with a small party. Lots of work, but fun nonetheless. I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit (a lot?) of what went into it. Thanks for sharing with me in this very neat moment. Cheers!
If you’ve been wondering how my first author event went, here ya go.
On October 31st, I made my way to LaDeDa Books for a book signing. I sat in my car for 10 minutes because I’d arrived extra early, afraid I’d somehow be late. I was nervous.
Seeing this sign on the way in gave me a thrill:
When I went inside, Bev, the owner, immediately made me feel welcome. First, she had me sign 3 copies for customers who couldn’t be there in person. Then, I got to sign the bathroom door (a fun tradition). After that, she led me to a small table with two chairs. I took some books and stacked them while I waited. We weren’t sure how many people would come, if any. These types of events are unpredictable. Plus, it was Halloween. Plus plus, it was cold and rainy.
Well, it didn’t take long for someone to show up. I was happy to see a familiar face, my old writing critique group partner and former professor. We chatted for a little bit and I felt more at ease then. I was also relieved someone had actually come to see little old me!
Well, more people came, including a surprise visit from my bestest out of town friends. I sold 13 copies total and the hour and a half flew by. I’d consider that a succes!
My next event is a book discussion at a public library. I feel more comfortable going into that event, with my feet a little wet from this. Hopefully that goes just as well. I really am glad I got to have a signing at an indie book store. It was fun, and not at all as scary as I’d imagined! One tip I heard- make sure you confirm how to spell names before you write them, just in case you assume wrong! Also, I planned how I woulsld sign, and where. I ended up writing the date, the person’s name, “Happy reading!” and then my signature.
Thanks to Bev for hosting, and to all who came out to support me. Next up: a book discussion next week!
I like to share my first blog tour stop, with a special thanks to Charline for hosting me! Click below to read all about my experience with writing critique groups.