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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Busy, Busy Fall

Tonight, of course, is the fundraising virtual booksigning for the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue Group. I've been told books are selling briskly. To be involved, drop by my chatroom. Just go to my website, and click the chatroom button in the lower right hand corner. I hope to have some of my author friends show up as guests. The chat begins at 6:30 p.m. CST

Boy, did I ever have fun last night.

I was part of the Fiskateers Chat, hosted by the remarkable Angela, who whipped folks into a true Fiska-Frenzy for Fiska-Fall doings. The conversation was fast-Fiska-paced, and my little fingers Fiska-flew over the keyboard trying to keep up. Check out Angela's stellar wrap-up at

I offered them the same thing I offer all of you--if you wish to use Paper, Scissors, Death as a bookclub selection, let me know. I'll come "visit" virtually or in person if possible. I'll send you signed bookplates to be adhered in your copies of PSD, so your book is personalized. I'll also send along bookmarks. I might ask for SASEs--which are Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelopes, so I don't go broke paying for postage!

Meanwhile, I'm prepping to go to Manhattan, Kansas, with a stop tomorrow night at St. Joseph, MO, where I'll teach making a "slam" album at the St. Joseph Library. I'll visit scrapbook stores in Columbia, MO, along the way. In Manhattan, on Saturday, around 9 a.m., I'll be giving a presentation at a coffee shop on scrapbooking and journaling and including your religion in your album. Then at 11 a.m., I'll go to the Ben Franklin store in Manhattan KS and teach slam books again until 1 p.m. From 5 to 5:45 p.m., I'm part of a discussion about pets in books--and author Marion Hill and I will give away a basket of pet items, plus her cookies.

I plan to set aside time to chat with my mentor and friend, Nancy Pickard. Her CASTS system for writing has dramatically improved my work.

And I'm on page 164 of 274 pages of Book #3. Whew. Keeping everything straight is a challenge.

Meanwhile, I offered the attached image to Camille Minichino (Margaret Grace) for our Killer Hobbies newsletter. Isn't it cute?

Monday, October 27, 2008

JUST for ME Contest Winners, and a Review of the Past Wild Week!

JUST FOR ME Contest Winners

As I promised, here are the names of the Just for Me Contest Winners:

Christy K. from Louisville KY


Lynn H. from Lawrenceville GA

I'll be contacting them via email and sending out their gifts.

Meanwhile, keep checking this blog and reading it carefully as I think I will mention other ezine readers' names--and if YOU respond, I'll send YOU some sort of fun gift! My gift cupboard is overflowing. I love picking up trinkets as I travel.


Wow. Another whirlwind week. Just returned home late last night from Magna cum Murder, the fantastic conference held at Ball State University (my alma mater) in Muncie, Indiana. Here's a photo of me and my pal Monica Ferris. Isn't her hat to die for? (That's sort of a joke. Her new upcoming book is called Thai Die!) Do you love hats? I sure do.

Be the first to comment on the photo of Monica and me, and I'll send you a Ball State University coffee mug!

By the way, I also connected with Louise Penny. She's a wonderful, soulful woman. I'll try to get her to guest post here.

TEACHER, TEACHER--"Getting Published"

Last Tuesday I filled in as an instructor for a Lewis & Clark Community College Class called "Getting Published". Since it has been a while since I taught a class, and that one I fell into at the last minute, I was a bit nervous about the evaluations. I opened my email today to read these:

"I have learned more than what I thought I would. The class was grrrreat! I knew it would be good, but it was wonderful. I loved it!"

"The instructor was obviously aware of the topic -- I found her to be smart, informative -- FAR exceeded my expectations!"

"This course is a 'must attend' course for anyone wanting to pursue a writing career. Information is invaluable and well worth the money spent."

"OMG (oh my god)! Her knowledge taught me so much, I would pay for this class again!"

"Being a working journalist I had a basic overview of writing, but having aspirations as a novelist it was a great help to get me started."

"I liked how Joanna asked each individual what they expected to get out of the class, wrote it on the blackboard and reviewed that each expectation was met."

"The instructor made everyone feel very comfortable. She was very professional yet down to earth. She left time for answering questions and open discussion."

Yes, I've been invited back. I'll try to post the new class schedule here. If you live in the southern Illinois or St. Louis area, maybe I'll see you.


I've asked my pal Luci Zahray if she would be a guest blogger here. No one knows more about poison than Luci. So...she tenatively said, "Yes." I know she's busy, and she loves to research, but isn't so keen on writing, so let's keep our fingers crossed!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Building a Platform

"I've been frantically researching what it means to build an author's platform, what appears to be the key factor in breaking into the market these days...I'm starting to think publicly about my writing instead of privately."

That's from an email I recently received.

What is a platform?

It's the audience an author can bring to his or her work.

Now, some folks might argue with me about that definition--in fact, one woman did at Love Is Murder last year--but that's the best one I can devise, and it dovetailes my personal experience.

Let's break it down...

1. Why does that matter? Because every publisher has a limited and finite set of resources for promoting any book. So...if you already have an audience, the publisher knows a.) you have established yourself as a public person b.) you KNOW how to establish yourself as a public person c.) they don't have to do all the heavy lifting.

Quickly, why should a publisher care if you are a public persona rather than a private one? Probably because the publisher hopes to sell books. If you are comfortable in public settings, if you are willing to put yourself "out there," if you are socially adept, if you understand that being a public persona means being "on" even when you don't want to be "on," then you can handle the demands of being a public persona--and think about it, who would be a better bet to sell books? Someone who goes to a conference and sits on the edge of her bed clipping her toenails? Or someone who gets out there and makes friends? Duh. (You laugh, but the first activity was reported to me by a roomie of a would-be author. The would-be author said, "I don't like meeting people I don't know." Then why on earth spend the $$$ to go to a conference? Hello?)

2. How do you establish a platform? There are a million-zillion ways. Usually it starts with becoming a known expert or spokesperson in a topic. That means you might a.) give interviews to the media including bloggers b.) write articles c.) give presentations or teach a class d.) head up an organization.

3. What media can a person use to establish a platform? Of course, the one most young people will immediately consider is social networking. But here's an important question, "Just because all those people are your friend in Facebook, does it automatically translate that they will BUY your book?" The answer is MAYBE. Only time can tell, and you probably can't. That doesn't mean I'm discounting social networking, it simply means think hard about the network you are attracting.

4. How else can a person establish a platform? Here are some ways: a.) head up a group of like minds b.) start a blog or guest post on other people's blogs c.) write articles d.) write letters to the editor or comments on prominent bloggers' blogs e.) publish a book or ebook that's authoritative f.) start a special holiday like John Riddle did with his I Love to Write Day (brilliant idea!) g.) make industry contacts--which might mean going to trade shows or helping out at a booth h.) start a newsletter or electronic magazine (ezine) i.) write a column for a newspaper j.) give speeches k.) give talks on a subject l.) get quoted by other experts m.) do booksignings n.) meet booksellers o.) make friends with prominent people in your industry (not just contacts, but friends!) p.) serve on boards q.) closely related to "p.)" is volunteer.

Basically, we're back to the old idea of networking. Yes, it's simply good old networking dressed up in a fancy tuxedo.

But it works.

I came to Midnight Ink with a platform. Acquiring Editor Barbara Moore knew that. But since then, I've worked hard to build and extend that platform. Because platforms sell books. If you doubt that, check out Joe Konrath. He's a whiz at building his platform. I've seen him in action.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Published--Additional Resources

Last night I taught “Getting Published” to a group of about 20 people at Lewis & Clark Community College in Edwardsville, IL.

My "students" were great. What a terrific, thoughtful and motivated group of people. Wow. They really kept me on my toes.

To follow up, here's a list of resources and a few terms that might be helpful to anyone wanting to write and get published:

Groups and Resources That Can Help

* St. Louis Writers Meet Up

Also google "writers meetup" and a plus sign (+) with the name of your particular geographic area.

* National Novel Writing Month

Next month is National Write a Novel Month. This group will help you get on track and encourage you along the way.

* Writers Market

Notice the free 30 day trial period. This is where you’ll find all the information about magazines, periodicals, publishers and agents. Use it like your own personal encyclopedia. Remember: You can look up the publications by topic, then read about how they want articles, etc., submitted. But whenever they offer an online link called “writers guidelines” go to that because it’s likely to be the most current information. You could buy the hardback version, but online is probably a better value.

* Sisters in Crime

A group of mystery authors—male and female. Join their “Guppies” group which is a resource group for unpublished authors. You can join Sisters in Crime nationally, then pay an extra but small fee to join Guppies. Go to the link below and scroll down to “guppies”

* The Newbies Guide to Publishing

A blog by Joe (J.A. Konrath) with all sorts of information, and a critique form that’s a very helpful device for any critique group to use when assessing a book.

Publicity and Marketing

For a fun look at how an author interacts with a publicist, check out Dennis Cass’s hysterical YouTube video:


For those considering Self-Publishing, read these:

John Kremer--1001 Ways to Market Your Book

Tom and Marilyn Ross—Complete Guide to Self-Publishing

Dan Poynter—Self-Publishing Manual

Remember, self-publishing is a BUSINESS. You must approach it that way, or you’ll regret it.

Helpful Terms

ISBN—International Standard Book Numbering—like a social security number for a book. Helps anyone find your book. A necessity.

Query letter—a letter sent to “query” or question an editor as to whether he/she would be interested in your article. Usually accompanies a non-fiction article proposal. It is appropriate to follow up after a reasonable period of time by phone. Use Writers Market to determine what that reasonable period might be, as Writers Market lists how long the publisher/magazine will take to respond. (But that time period is always a lie.)

Blog—short for “website log.” A website that allows easy and regular updating so that it becomes an online diary or journal of information. Many are free. Go to and you’ll learn more. But there are other blog providers, so do your research first. Typepad and Wordpress are two more providers.

Book Proposal—a package sent to an agent or publisher in advance of sending a whole manuscript. Should include a cover letter, a marketing plan, why you are uniquely qualified to write this book, three chapters and an outline or synopsis.

Synopsis—different from an outline because instead of going point by point, this tells the story in third person of your book. (Obviously it’s for a fiction offering.) It’s as if you were telling a friend about the book. There are many good books on submitting manuscripts. Your Novel Proposal from Creation to Concept is my favorite.

Novel—this is a fiction book. Some or all is made up.

Non-fiction—the material within is true. If there’s a mix of truth and fiction, the book is always considered fiction.

E-book—a book that is offered as a file, online. Readers can choose to download and print out the book or read it online.

POD—print-on-demand. Book doesn’t exist on paper until an order to purchase it comes in. POD publishers don’t command the same respect, generally, that a traditional publisher does. Also, because you don’t have large quantities printed at once, these are more expensive than a traditionally published book. Therefore, if you are a new author, it might be hard to convince readers to spend that additional sum on you since you aren’t established.

Galley—a copy of your book, with the pages printed out pretty much as they will appear in the final draft. However, the pages might not be bound together, just loose. This is used to proofread for mistakes.

ARC—Advance Reading Copy—a copy of your book that will look almost exactly like the finished product, except usually with a cheaper cover. These are sent to reviewers in advance of the publication of your final product. There may still be proofreading problems in this version, and it may not have endorsements from other others or reviewers in it.

Character arc—the journey a character makes through the course of a book or a series. This is the emotional growth pattern of a character.

Blurbs—a complimentary comment that will appear on the cover (inside or outside) of a book to promote the book. Usually your publisher helps arrange these, but you might also ask any author friends if they would be willing to read your book and give you a blurb.

Mass market paperback—the type of paperback you typically see sold at a grocery store. Usually small, say five by six inches. Costs the least of all book types, except an e-book.

Trade paperback—considered a cross between a mass market paperback and a hardback book. Larger than a mass market paperback, still having a paper cover, but the cover is generally of a higher quality, thicker stock. Cost is somewhere between that of a mass market paperback and a hardback book.

Advance—the loan made to an author which is to be paid back by the author’s portion of sales, which is a percentage of the net (not retail) cost of the book.


And here's something to get you going...

November 15 is I Love To Write Day

Founded in 2002 by Delaware author John Riddle, I Love to Write Day iscelebrated every November 15th by having everyone spend some timewriting -- a poem, a letter, an essay, a greeting card.
If you go to and sign up to participatein the day you can get two free reports from John. Just send John an email ( telling him how you'll help spread theword and he'll send you: How I Made $66,270 in 9 Months Writing forWebsites and Getting a Book Contract in 30 Days or Less.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kingsport (TN) Times Women's Expo


I rolled in last night after being on the road eleven straight hours. I'm dizzy, ditzy and tired today after attending my first Kingsport (TN) Times Women's Expo. (Thanks again to my gal-pal and BFF Shirley Damsgaard who helped wrangle me an invite!)

On Friday, I gave a humorous speech to kick off the event. It's been a while since I delivered a keynote and I was stressed. Still, somehow I found my "funny person" inside. You know, you can practice and practice but unless you're in the groove, it won't happen. And after the warm welcome given to me by the organizers, Sharon and Lydia, I was definitely feeling good. Read about it at Jennifer Estep's blog

The next day I sat beside Valerie Ramsey, who at 68 is proof we can age both gracefully and beautifully. That's Valerie in the red jacket. Check her out at She's a dear, and I enjoyed chatting with her in-between selling books.

I really wanted to get to know Teresa Medieros, Beth Williamson, Lora Leigh, Julia Quinn, Trista Ann Michaels, and Kay Stockham better, but honest to Pete, we were so busy talking to readers there just wasn't the time. (And let me say that there must be some magic to writing romance because all these women were gorgeous. I'm standing between Kay on the left and Teresa on the right. I came home determined to NEVER eat again! Fat begone!)
I did take time to smell the roses. I spent a couple of hours on a private tour of the Bays Mountain Nature Preserve. My heartfelt thanks to Karen Travis.

Check out my blog post at to read more about my weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Schedule Through November 2, 2008

Here's my schedule for the weekend and the week ahead I'll add details later:

Friday, Oct. 17, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.

Keynote speaker at the Kingsport (TN) Women's Expo Authors Dinner.

Also speaking will be Valerie Ramsey, the remarkable woman who "lived her life backwards" by becoming a top model at the age of 63.


Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday

Kingsport (TN) Times Women's Expo

I'll be appearing with Valerie, and such fabulous authors as Julia Quinn, Teresa Medeiros, Lora Leigh, Kay Stockham, Jennifer Estep, Mary Wine, Beth Williamson, Trista Ann Michaels, Jessie Verino, Tammy Robinson Smith, Lisa Hall, Elizabeth Barker, Gayle Trent, and Daphne Matthews.


Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m.

"Getting Published"

I'll be teaching this class at the N.O. Nelson Campus of Lewis & Clark Community College, 600 Troy Road, Edwardsville IL


Wednesday, October 22, evening

Bad Girls Book Club

A virtual meeting! Can't wait!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Got 2B Scrapping

I'll be doing a scrapbook demo, making a holiday slam album at this store in Effingham, IL.


Friday, October 24, 2008-Sunday, Oct. 26

I'll be at Magna cum Murder in Muncie, IN


October 28, 2008 at 8:30 p.m. CST

Fiskateers Chat

An online visit with the Fiskateers and friends.


October 29, 2008 at 6:30-8 EST

Great Dane Rescue Group Fundraiser and Booksigning Virtual Event

Online book event with the Great Dane Rescue People. Go to my chatroom on my website and click the chatroom icon to participate in this fundraiser


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scrapbooking Demo at
St. Joseph, MO Library

Another scrapbooking demo.


Friday, October 31-Nov. 2

Manhattan Mystery Conclave

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Scrapbooking Slam Album Demo at the Ben Franklin Store in Manhattan KS

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Tremendous Power of a Thank You Note

Disclaimer: I'm not nearly so good at writing "thank you" notes as I should be. But I try, I really try.

Lately, I've been spending at least a portion of my day writing them. And I think quite possibly that a "thank you" note is the most accessible form of magic that we can create. I've noticed that writing them seems to make me happier--and that shouldn't be surprising. Martin Seligman, the psychologist, found that people can improve their overall feelings of happiness by writing a letter to someone who made a positive difference in the writer's life. So, it seems to me, that even a short note of gratitude reminds me that I have much to be thankful for. It causes me to pause and pay attention to the myriad of small generosities of spirit that come my way.

Of course, it also creates magic in the recipient.

Last weekend when I was at The Big Read, I finally got to meet Danielle from Left Bank Books, the young lady who organizes their author events, in the flesh. She and I shook hands and then she thanked me for my "thank you" note. In fact, all the other Left Bank Books employees in the booth weighed in, telling me how much they'd enjoyed what I said.

I wrote about how it felt to stand in the place where so many greats had stood. (You can read my blog about it, and that's pretty much a longer version of what I said to them when I wrote my note.) I took the time to think through why that event was special to me. Whenever I write a "thank you" note, I try to figure out exactly and specifically why I'm saying thanks. Just a blank "thank you!" doesn't really cut it. That's a cop out.

While the group from Left Bank Books thanked me for the "thank you" note, one of the owners Chris came over and joined our conversation. She told me about their plans for their second location and I told her I'd love to be involved.

Was it because of the "thank you" note? I don't know for sure, but I bet it was, at least in part. You see, I think we enjoy working with people who are appreciative. Why wouldn't we?

So if you are feeling stuck, or low, or like your marketing efforts aren't bearing fruit, instead of asking for more, maybe you should stop a minute and say "thanks."

Couldn't hurt.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What I Miss Most...

Last Wednesday I participated in Chill Me, Thrill Me--a panel of mystery authors who spoke at the McClay Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library. Saturday I moderated a panel and taught a class at The Big Read. So my "social" calendar for promotions has been very full.

And I miss writing.

You see, as I write I tell myself a story, and I indulge in that world of my fantasy. When I don't get to work on a book, I find myself cranky and sad. I miss Kiki Lowenstein and her friends. I miss the creative outlet of immersing myself in another world. I get very lonely.

So in the evenings, I always try to work at a craft. Lately I've been experimenting with markers making journaling boxes and embellishments. I'm using several stamps, stamping the images, and trying a variety of coloring and shading techniques. It keeps my hands busy and helps me feel productive. Because that's something I need, and something crafts provide...a feeling of being productive. (See my The Big Read Journaling Box here.)
Preview of a Busy Week

Looking forward to this week, it will be very busy. Tomorrow early I have a radio interview. Tomorrow night I'll be at a book club at Suzanne Hooper's house. She's a neighbor, the wife of my friend Tony, and a trainer of Support Dogs. I admire Suzanne's work and her fantastic spirit. Suzanne's not afraid to engage anybody and chat! You should have seen her at my book launch at Main Street Books. She'd buttonhole shoppers with that huge smile of hers, a megawatt smile, and say, "Have you read Joanna's new book? You need to. It's set here in St. Louis."

Then on Wednesday I have an interview with Diva Craft Lounge. That's the "big daddy" (or "big mama" I suppose) of all scrapbooking Internet radios. On Thursday, our wedding anniversary, I had to Kingsport Tennessee. On Friday I speak at the Authors' Dinner of the Kingsport TN Times Women's Expo. So I'll be busy working on my speech until then. Yes, I practice. I break the speech into bits and actually say those out loud. I'm working on a little song to the tune of "Downtown", the Petula Clark hit, but I suggest you go shopping instead!
About AllTop...
As you might have noticed, I've joined AllTop. Check out the badge at the bottom of this page to learn more. AllTop is an aggregator service. That means they scan all the blogs and put together a listing of the top blogs in different categories. They add a line or two about the most recent posts.

Why is AllTop important? I don't know about you, but I don't have time to scan every blog I should so that I can keep up with all the news in my field, scrapbooking and in my profession, writing. So AllTop does that for me.

Okay, I promised myself some writing time after I posted this. Now for dessert!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Addendum to Marketing Your Book Class

As promised yesterday when I was presenting at The Big Read, here's a list of resources every writer should consult. Please also go to my older blog posts and look up my February 22 post, as I have a list of books there to help you with publicity.

Note that I haven't organized these--I simply pulled everything off my top shelf and started typing. In that respect, it represents a snapshot of the resources I have used most frequently in the two years since I sent out into the marketplace with my manuscript, which became Paper, Scissors, Death.

Some books are on how to find a literary agent. The keyword to know when looking is actually an acronym: AAR, which is Association of Authors Agents. That means the agent belongs to an organization with industry-respected standards. What I don't have on my list is a current copy of Writers Market. It's a great resource, but it's not inexpensive and since it's updated every year, you should get your hands on the most recent copy.

Here's the group:

* Sell Your Book on Amazon by Brent Sampson
* Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron
* Electronic Publishing : The Definitive Guide by Karen S. Weisner
* Mastering Online Marketing by Meyerson
* Seven Strategies in Every Best-Seller by Tam Mossman --This provides a good way to check your manuscript against the books it might be competing with BEFORE you try to sell it.
* Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass -- See above remark.
* Guide to Literary Agents by Kathryn S. Brogan (also check out Jeff Herman's book on agents. It was interested to cross-reference these two books and see who was in both.)
* Your Novel Proposal from Creation to Contract by Camenson & Cook -- Invaluable for how to deal with agents DURING the submission process.
* Plug Your Book! by Steve Weber
* The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter
* The Shortest Distance Between You and a Published Book: 20 Steps to Succeed by Susan Page
* 12 Keys to Writing Books That Sell by Kathleen Krull
* Take the Mystery Out of Promoting Your Book by p.m. terrell -- I can't say enough good stuff about Patricia. She's a whiz.
* Non-Fiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon

These books are definitely worth your time and attention.

If you are in this for the long haul, you need to educate yourself.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Book at a Time

My friend Angie Fox told me that she read this startling statistic in USA Today: 85% of all Americans want to write a book.

Wow. That's...that's just an enormous number.

I've been thinking a lot about how to make this blog special. As many of you know, I also blog over at with six other writers of craft cozies. That's a pretty free-wheeling blog, although we often write about our crafts.

And I contribute to the InkSpot, which is a blog written by a group of Midnight Ink Authors.

So...what can I do here that will be unique?

I think I'll chronicle the day-to-day work of a debut author. If you really want to write a book, you need to know that your work doesn't stop when you sign a contract. Contrary to popular belief, your work really BEGINS with the contract. You see, the contract only marks the end of a phase. That phase is the publisher's acceptance of your book.

What really matters--in my humble opinion--is the public's acceptance and interest in your book. Because unless you get the word out, and unless people start buying your book, your career is over, fini, done, stick-a-fork in it and take it out of the oven.

With that in mind, what have I been doing since my book Paper, Scissors, Death was released in September? Well, I've been trying to hand-sell (that is sell by personally suggesting) my book to as many people as possible. That might seem pretty hopeless. After all, that's pushing these puppies into the market one book at a time.

But I recall a moment sitting in a bar in Florida with Robert Crais. (Yes, he really is that dreamy looking.) A group of us mystery writers and author wannabes (myself included at that point) were sitting with him and talking about sales. He pointed out that in the early days of your first book, because print runs are generally small, your efforts can have great impact. For example, if your print run is 5,000 and you get out there and hustle so that your efforts cause you to sell 500 books, you've sold 10% of that run BY YOUR OWN EFFORT.

Crais went on to say that as you move up the food chain (I call it the food chain, he didn't), the print runs get bigger. So your individual efforts don't matter so much.

Right now I have this small, golden window of opportunity. If I hustle, I can make a difference in sales. So far, here's what I know I've accomplished:

* sold 400 copies to Archivers and now they've placed a chain wide order. With 45 stores, and assuming they buy at least a box each, that's 1620 books. Add the initial 400 and that's 2020 books.

* working with Barnes & Noble. Got Paper, Scissors, Death modeled here in St. Louis. That means the local stores will stock at least two copies. Next up, I want to sign at as many B & N stores as possible. My goal is to sell a box of books per store. I figure there are four, maybe five stores in the area. That would be 180 books, and if I can have an impact on regional sales, I think they might model the book chain-wide.

* sold books at Borders event. I handsold 28 copies. That's actually better than it looks because when you move that many books in an evening, you prove to the booksellers that your book has legs.

* sold books at Left Bank Books. I figure we sold 18 copies or more. Again, the value is in introducing the book to the booksellers.

* sold books at The Mystery Company in Indianapolis. See above. Curiously, the number seems to hold steady. Since the average number of books sold at a signing is 4--and no, I don't know where that number came from or how true it is--I'm doing better than average. I know the booksellers have been pleased.

* sold books at Main Street Books in St. Charles. See above. About the same number sold.

* I've been going from independent scrapbook store to independent scrapbook store, and I have events upcoming on their schedules. This is the wild card. A box of books here and there can really add up.

* I have a full calendar of conferences, etc., to attend such as The Big Read in Clayton MO this weekend, the Kingsport TN News Women's Expo next weekend, The Manhattan Mystery Conclave the weekend after. My goal is to always have more than one "event" per location. Otherwise, I might be wasting my time driving.

What I really miss in all this, besides the sleep!, is the time to write. Writing is my escape and my sanity. I did some work on Book #3 yesterday while at the hair salon. Bless my stylist's heart, he was kind enough to work around the computer! When I finally had to close the file, a felt a tug at my heart.

I miss writing. I really do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Standing in the Footprints of Giants

Last night I did a signing at Left Bank Books.

My heart was banging around in my chest like a pigeon caught in a trap. I was that nervous, and since I'm accustomed to public speaking, the question was, "Why?"

Well, Left Bank Books is the premier independent bookseller in St. Louis. All the biggest names in literature come to town and sign at LBB. In fact, just the week before, I'd been in the audience to hear what John Lutz had to say. And last night, he and his lovely wife Barb were so generous with their time as to be there for me.

I thought John's approach to his signing was a good one, so I "scraplifted" (copied) it. I set the scene and then read a chapter. John had inserted "he said" and "she said" to help the listeners keep track of who was speaking. A smart move, that.

After I read Chapter Two, I talked a bit about scrapbooking and showed off some pages. I figured that at least some of my audience members probably wouldn't have any idea how complicated layouts can get. There were lots of "oohs" and "aahs" over the layouts.

I showed off a big poster of Orion, Keri Murphy's dog, my model for Gracie.

I read another scene--this one a funny one. Then I answered a few questions about the writing process.

All in all, it was rather like a dream. I forgot to give my husband my camera, so I can't share pictures. But that's okay. It's engraved in my mind.