Friday, July 30, 2010


Thanks to my good friend, Natalie.  She's awarded me the Versatile Blogger award.  I'm not sure I deserve it but amatuer bloggers like me lap up any recognition we get from someone who keeps a great content blog like Natalie's Indulge Yourself.
As recipient of this award, I must do a few things.  I must thank the giving, pass it on to up to 15 bloggers as well as link to them and let them know they're getting it, and tell you seven things about myself.
So here are my seven things:
1. I grew up on a dairy farm and got up at 4 am most mornings.  Now I hate getting up early.
2. I never watch any reality TV shows or contest shows.  I've never seen American Idol.
3. I broke my ankle when I was running once and continued to run the three miles to home, taught aerobics that night and went to the doctor two days later because I couldn't understand why it kept getting worse.
4. I own three different versions of Pride and Prejudice.
5. I love baking bread and would do it every day if I had the time.
6. I can drink coffee, iced or hot, all day long and have no trouble sleeping at night.
7. I rearrange my office every time I complete a new manuscript. 

Now for my friends I hope you'll visit and comment on their blogs.
Cate Masters
Jemi Fraser
Jon Sprunk

Because Natalie and I share so many friends I'm going to pass this away on to only a few.  Hope you'll visit them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Coming Up For a Breath of Air

It happens to all writers.  You get so involved in your WIP you can't pull yourself away to attend any of the other 'chores' being a writer involves.  For the past four days I went on a series roll with my second book in the new YA series I'm writing.  I knew exactly where the story was going and even had trouble sleeping at night as scenes played out in my thoughts.  I woke up each morning determined to record those plot twists and dialogues I'd thought of before falling to sleep.
I cooked meals for my family, checked some email, exercised a little, but for most of my waking hours I sat at the keyboard and zoomed through a new 12K of manuscript.  It may have been the most I ever wrote in such a short period of time.  I don't know if I can keep up that pace this week but I'm already anxious to get back to it. 
However I really can't cease all contact with my writing friends.  I haven't visited another blog for days and I really enjoy and learn from the friends I've made here the blog world.  I'm sure my FB page is back-logged with requests and event announcements I've missed.  So I'm going to do a little catch up and then it's back to the book.
Have you ever been so in the zone with a writing project you couldn't leave it to do any other writing work?  What is the best word count you've had for a day, a week, a month? 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bookstore Personalities

Every book store I frequent has certain characteristics that keep me coming back.  For one of them it's simple geographic location. For another one, it's the quantity of books on the shelves.  For the two independent stores I frequent, it's the warmth of the people running the store and an aura of true love for the written word.
Yesterday I was the privileged guest of the Borders Bookstore at the Lycoming Mall in Williamsport, PA where I signed copies of The Keepers of Sulbreth.  Joyce Rupert, host extraordinaire, had my signing posted on their events calenders, printed and online, had posters at both entrances to the store and had ordered a LARGE number of  my books for me to sign.  As you can see from the picture, they had a large table set up for me with a beautiful Borders cloth covering it, a comfortable chair and those clever little plastic gadgets to display my books.
Not only was Joyce helpful and friendly, but every worker in the store made me feel welcome and many stopped to speak with me.  Now let me tell you about location.
Many authors had horror stories of a signing table set in the back of the store, by the bathroom, or some other quirky spot in a store where no one will ever see them. I wasn't in the back of the store  because this store had NO back. It is set in a mall where the one entrance is to the parking lot and the other is into the enclosed mall concourse.  The store has an aisle set up from one entrance to the other, lined with displays.  And yesterday my books and I shared that prime selling place with those racks and tables of best-sellers. Nearly every person entering the store passed by my table, many of whom were only using Borders as a convenient way to enter the mall.  It was wonderful.
On one side of my table was a display of the newest hardback releases and across the aisle from me was the large table of newest mass market releases.  Many of my sales came from people searching that table for a read. On my other side was the information desk, constantly manned and constantly busy. 
The store had a constant flow of customers and I had few moments of standing by myself.  Some people stopped to talk about writing, about our favorite fantasy books, about their college plans, about their lives and the world of books.  One aspiring writer is a temporary resident of the area as he does his time as the local army recruiter.  I wish Sergeant Aleman the best of luck and hope he stays save in his next tour. 
I consider yesterday's signing as my most successful event.  Not because I sold the most books ever but because I sold them all to strangers.  Not one family member, friend or fellow writing group member were among my customers.  I love those people for their support but I'll never know for sure they purchased my book purely for its entertainment value.  Yesterday every person who bought my book wanted it for its own merits.  It was a wonderful feeling.
I sold half the books Joyce had ordered for the event and she assured me I did better than anyone they'd recently had for an event.  So even though I didn't sell out like I did at three previous events, I was thrilled with the day.  She invited me back and I'll certainly plan on doing another event. My only regret is I don't live closer to this particular Borders.  They have a large cafe and a very efficient staff.
To top off a great day and keep me alert on the two hour drive home, I visited the Auntie Anne's pretzel store and bought an original recipe pretzel.  So many people walked through the store carrying one, my stomach was growling. 
Do you have any tales of best and worst book signings?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Here I Come, Williamsport

This Saturday from 1-3, I'll being signing copies of The Keepers of Sulbreth at the Borders Store located at the Lycoming Mall in Williamsport, PA.  This is exciting for me because it's the closest Borders to where I grew up. 
Williamsport is a rather big town and the last time I was to the Lycoming Mall it was really busy so I'm hoping for a big crowd.  I owe this signing completely to my writers' group, Pennwriters.  They send out a newsletter to book sellers promoting their published authors works.  The event organizer at this Borders contacted me after she saw my book in the Pennwriters Newsletter.  Thanks, PW!
So if you're in the area, please stop by and say hello even if you don't want to read my book or have already purchased it.
Does your writers' group do anything like this to help their members?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Writing in the Cafe

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on edits for Book #4 of The Futhark Chronicles, Children of Futhark. I won’t go into the process except for one thing. Why is it I can get more accomplished while sitting in my favorite coffee shop than I can while sitting in my office at home?

Surely there are more distractions sitting in the Seattle’s Best CafĂ© in my local Borders than there is in my small carpeted room at my writing desk at home? Today there were only a handful of people present but two of the men knew each other and talked long and loud about their stocks. One lady sitting by herself shared her cell phone conversation with half the store. We only heard one side of it and believe me, it wasn’t worth sharing. Behind me an older man was trying to impress a younger woman with his knowledge of travel in Europe and grad school.

The kind lady working behind the counter made some really long announcements into the store PA system about their specials for the day. She refilled the ice machine to much clanging and of course she had to grind coffee for someone. Yet I accomplished so much. Why?

Despite all these distractions, they were still less than those I get at home. Even when I’m home alone (very seldom happens), I feel the pressure of the dirty laundry, the long-ignored bathrooms, the weed-filled flower beds and my love of baking. Few are the days when I indulge in more than an hour of uninterrupted writing time. I’m always hoping up to work on another chore. I love multi-tasking and can’t seem to refrain from it even when I really want to concentrate on my writing.

So I pack up my computer and drive the ten minutes to my local Borders, buy an over-priced latte and work. My goal is to make this trip at least every third day over the next two weeks and get the rest of the edits done. Then I’ll need a few hours to recheck the formatting, write up a brief synopsis and then send it off to my publisher by the end of the month.

How about you? Is there a place where you find the peace needed to write? Is it home or elsewhere? Are coffee shops distracting or relaxing to you?