Books I’m reading: May Edition

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and plan on doing a lot more. Books I’m reading (note that these are no recommendations. I’m not liking 100% of these):

  1. Life in a Medieval Village by Frances Giles
  2. Going Wide Unboxed by Patty Jansen
  3. Holly Lisle’s Create a World Clinic by Holly Lisle
  4. Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran
  5. Magonia by Mari Dahvana Headley
  6. Restore by Vince Antonucci
  7. The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass
  8. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
  9. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Why I Believe by Chip Ingram

Earlier this week, I finished reading another Holly Lisle non-fic about creating a culture. Very good intro to worldbuilding. I’m going to have to go back and do the worksheets.

Read broad. Read deep. Read often. Read lots.

Keep your pen on the page and your nose in a book,
Beth

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How I Survived My Second Book Signing

IMG_20180512_131558590.jpgMe^ (Photo credit: R.A. Johnson)

Don’t let that relaxed, calm, and passive face fool you 😉 I was STRESSED about my book signing last Saturday. I showed up an hour early, with all my stuff and my friend and her son and my mom…because, let’s face it: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Ten minutes in, I was sweating…well, more literally than proverbially. TMI?

How did I survive? What did I do right? What did I do wrong? Buckle up, folks! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

HAVE A PLAN!

What I Did Right

  • I reserved the venue (my local public library) five months in advance (before the calendar filled up for 2018)
  • Contacted my baker way in advance (Cross’ Confections. YUM!)
  • Stayed in touch with my baker every so many months, until it got closer; by then, I was contacting her every so many weeks
  • Sent out personal invites to friends and family (you can do e-invites, but there’s something about getting actual mail in the real-life mailbox…)
  • Had swag related to each book
  • Had my help lined up months in advance

If possible, get a free, public venue. I could have asked a church, but some people aren’t comfortable in a religious setting, and you have to pay to rent a room. Plus, if the church doesn’t approve of you book…well, that’s a whole ‘nother dilemma.

Baked goods are optional. I wanted to feed my guests. Did it cost me? Yes (not nearly as much as if I had gone with another bakery, but still.)

Keeping the lines of communication open with your venue and your help/baker is essential. People are busy and sometimes forget to write things down. You are not being a nag contacting them on occasion to finalize or go over plans.

A personal touch can mean the difference between a yes and a no. Want people to come to your party? Make them feel like they’re wanted. Because they are!

Giving away swag related to your book is a fun way to keep you and your work in people’s thoughts. Let’s face it: you have to see/hear of a book several times before you break down and read it.

Putting the burden on your own shoulders alone will break your back.

What I Did Wrong

  • I did not set a budget. This is CRITICAL for any party planner: make certain you have a limit on what you want to spend. Things add up FAST! Whether you’re selling books or Mary Kay, you don’t want a deficit. Come out in the black!
  • I had my expectations set on my last book signing. By doing this, I kept comparing. And when you compare, you tend to get negative. You doubt yourself and your ability to write, sell, or throw a party.

Onward!

For refreshments, I had my high school friend Beth Cross of Cross’ Confections make three types of macarons (strawberry, blueberry, and I think the green one was matcha with a mint filling), chocolate chip scones, and shortbread cookies. Mmmm!

IMG_20180512_140939602.jpg(Photo credit: R.A. Johnson)

For book swag, I had postcards for Lady Catherine Says

Lady Catherine Says cover2

Lip balms with the cover art for Lady Catherine Says, along with information on where to find the book; postcards for Circus in a Shot Glass with pens attached…

CIASG post cards

Buttons for In a Pickle with the words “I’VE GOT SOME HISTORY TO FIX” printed on them; and bookmarks for those who bought Lady Catherine Says, encouraging people to leave reviews of my books on Goodreads.

With twenty-four people in attendance, I’m calling the official book launch/signing for Lady Catherine Says a success!

Keep your pen on the page and your nose in a book,
Beth

P.S. Here’s a link to my radio interview last Thursday: Listen Here!

What Are You Wearing?

In my novel Circus in a Shot Glass (to be released later this year from Clean Reads), the protagonist (Scotch) loves ’50s style clothing.

The dress on the left (yes, I realize the proportions are totally off) is based on one of Rosemary Clooney’s dresses in the film White Christmas. It’s black, has a sweetheart neckline with off-the-shoulder straps, and a mermaid hemline. My character Scotch wears the dress at point during the novel–a rather quirky scene, imo.

The second dress is one I’d imagine Scotch wearing around The Antique Boutique, the shop where she works and lives in. It would be a deep green, complementing her auburn hair nicely 😉

Like Scotch, the 1950s is my favorite period for women’s clothing. It’s fun, bringing a piece of myself into what I put on paper.

__

What about you? What’s your favorite period for fashion?

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

I Hit PUBLISH!

I hit publish for Lady Catherine Says! While it hasn’t gone live yet, you can sign up (on Amazon) to be notified when it is made available. YAY!

I’m throwing around some possibilities of a book signing next year, and selling my books from a local craft store and perhaps a coffee shop. We’ll see!

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

P.S. Tomorrow’s blog post will be a Christmas shopping guide! I’m hoping to do a special one just for writers, too. Stay tuned…

3 Things Jane Austen Taught Me About Fear

Jane Austen was the master of characterization. She knew people inside and out, foibles, propensities to do good or ill, and emotions. One of those emotions she was familiar with and wrote about is fear.

Fear? What did anyone have to fear? They didn’t have terrorists. The characters lived comfortable, privileged lives, with servants to do the dirty work. No one starved, no one experienced violence–no main characters, that is. What is there to be afraid of in Regency England for the likes of the Bennets and the Elliots?

001Me, afraid

Here are five characters and their fears, along with how they dealt with them:

  1. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet (Pride and Prejudice.) Lizzy is the daughter of a not-so-well -off country gentleman. With no brothers to provide for her when Mr. Bennet dies, and no brothers to inherit and give her a leg up, Lizzy faces the very real possibility of winding up dependent on any benevolent relative she can find if she cannot marry well. If all failed, there are really few to no options for her career-wise. Yes, women worked back then. Gentlewomen, however did not, it would seem, besides becoming governesses, a lonely, demeaning job.

What I learned from Lizzy…

Though she says, “Beggars cannot be choosers” (in the movie anyway) regarding accepting a marriage proposal, Lizzy is determined not to be induced into matrimony if she does not love the man, which she proves by declining TWO marriage proposals. She could have been safe, comfortable, but miserable. Some people–back then, at least–might have called her foolish for putting her survival on the line (Mrs. Bennet let her displeasure be known, that’s for sure.) But what I learned was this: It’s okay to say no to the known in favor of the frightening unknown if your character and morals are at stake. In other words: Don’t compromise just because you’re afraid.

2. Mr. Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility.) Ah, Willoughby. The rake. The rogue. What has he got to do with fear? If Lizzy Bennet is a moral heroine, Willoughby is the inverse: Willoughby is victim to his own desperation. Oh, he’s fine at first, seducing women right and left. Feels pretty good about being in line to inherit his aunt’s great fortune and estate…until it’s discovered he got a girl pregnant out of wedlock and then abandoned her. Well, his auntie finds out about this bad business and disinherits him. Desperate and afraid of losing his cushy lifestyle, Willoughby sets out to make a most advantageous marriage…for himself. He marries and lives off a rich woman.

What I learned from Willoughby…

He could have done the right thing: Married the girl he seduced and impregnated, apologized to Marianne and her family, and changed his ways. Instead, he goes to Eleanor and basically tries to absolve himself. It’s obvious he feels terrible, but his “apology” is completely self-serving. When you’ve done wrong, you need to face your fear of rejection and humiliation and make things right, no matter what. In other words: Fear isn’t a pass to overlook your duty.

3. Mary (Elliot) Musgrove (Persuasion.) Bear with me, I have only read the book once. But I have seen the movie multiple time 😉 Mary strikes me as a fearful person. At the root of her fear, though, is pride. Mary will not have you think her beneath her station, even it’s at the expense of other people’s feelings.

What I learned from Mary…

Perhaps some fear and most pride are very closely linked (much like Lizzy and Willoughby being two sides of the same coin, one good and one ill.) Fear of failure = pride. Fear of being laughed at = pride. Fear of what other’s think of me = pride. This brings to mind some wonderful sayings: What other people think of you is none of your business and The only opinion about yourself that is worth considering is God’s.

What about you? What has Jane taught you about fear? Anything?

Keep your pen on the page,
Beth

Jolabokaflod

“Gesundheit!” you say? WRONG. I did not sneeze. Jolabokaflod, the word that has been circulating the web is the Icelandic tradition translated as “the Christmas Book Flood.”

What is the phenom? It is GLORIOUS! On Christmas Eve, people give each other BOOKS! Squeee! So, I may or may not have bought a bunch of books for friends and family to be given on the day before Christmas 😀

I am soooo excited! I’m even going to include chocolate (taking the book to bed with chocolate is part of the tradition, btw.) I hope to make this a new tradition.

Every year, my mom gives my sister and me each an ornament that has something to do with what has gone on during the year. Example: last year I “finished” writing “Scotch” (now under a new title.) So she got me a bottle of booze…ornament. Hehe.

What are some of your traditions? Think you’ll participate in Jolabokaflod?

Whatever you do, keep that pen on the page!
Beth

The Art of the Start

NaNo Playlist Thing

^Behold the playlist.

I started! I started! I started writing The S.A.P.I.E.N. Complex! Eh, it’s a working title…maybe. Could go by another title, but it would be somewhat of a spoiler, and you know how I hate spoilers. ANYWAY…

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta be happy about the small things. Hey, I can’t finish the novel if I don’t start it. And it is a rough start. But it is also a rough draft. And, as Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is…the s-word” …only, Hemingway didn’t have kids reading his blog. Hemingway didn’t have a blog, even, but I digress.

I am 3,000+ words into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who don’t know.) I am so hoping I don’t have to brush up my Russian accent!

I tra’el the weerld an’za se’wen seas….