A Writerly Blog
Whew! This week, I was involved in four events as an author -- each unique in its own way. Being a former teacher and school librarian, my very first school visit was a favorite! You can see me above, sharing my PowerPoint presentation.
Since travel is not an option this summer, I'm continuing with my wanderlust summer series. This time, it's a medieval city in England - the quintessentially historic York. After we toured this famous town, Olivia and I agreed its one of the places in England we'd love to live!
Just a few days ago, I was awarded the Leibster Award. Well, that’s not quite true. I was offered it. By a young poet and friend from the UK! Hannah is a budding writer and blogger who delights in using her God-given gifts to encourage and inspire others. You can check out her blog, The Way of Delight here. Thanks, Hannah!
Since I had no other plans for this week’s post (I’m heading to the SoCal Christian Writer’s Conference tomorrow — can’t wait!) I decided to take her up on the offer. The award has been around for a number of years, morphing as it time went by. If you want the full story, you can read it at wordingwell.com I went online to find a few images for the award, which you see above.
As we move into June, I am reminded of my idyllic childhood vacations. Since both my Mother and I followed the school holiday schedule (she was a school social worker), each summer we would take off in one of the cardinal directions to visit family and friends. I remember a red Ford station wagon in the 50's, a blue Rambler wagon in the 60's, and later, a white Rambler Marlin with red interior that Mom let me choose from the used car lot! Heading out west we would camp along the way. Any other trip we would stay a night in a motel.
I'm taking a long-awaited rest from my book-related tasks, although I continue to connect my debut book with what is happening around me. That has always been my goal. This week, I'm retreated to a place that has a minuscule history - that is, compared to San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston. What I'm discovering this week is the many-varied natural treasures of the arid landscape, primarily in Phoenix, which resides in the Sonoran Desert.
As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blogpost or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.
Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?
There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. We authors have families, other jobs, people and pets we must care for, and places we'd like to go, just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??
Can I make a suggestion?
We don't need to!
As far as I'm concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .
I'm learning quite a bit as a debut author. And blog touring is one of these aspects. My MG historical fiction, The Heart Changer is going on tour May 20th to 24th — even if I can’t. I was hoping for some R&R, but that comes at the beginning of June. Here is the link: Just Read Blog & Review Tour if you are interested in those who expertly share your book with their readership. It’s not possible for debut authors to be at all places all the time so this essentially doubles their reach. I consider it a jump-start to our career. . .
Sometimes, there is a fee, usually it includes a giveaway — you supply the books, they give them away. Occasionally, you can choose to offer an e-book in place of a physical one. Many times, you are responsible to ship the autographed book to the winner.
So which companies offer this opportunity?
Ten days ago I returned exhausted from three whirlwind days of our regional SCBWI Conference. Wow. I couldn't take it all in -- there was so much to absorb! There were workshops and keynote addresses by seasoned authors, a bookstore to shop to our wallet's delight, and of course, a county fair to top all county fairs.
Topics from how to garner invites for author visits to social media marketing and what to look for in an agent. And the customary craft courses on voice, editing and character.
If you've been to a writer's conference, you know how daunting it can be. So what are the 5 things to remember? Let me outline them simply here:
1. BE COMFORTABLE
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing (with a sweater or jacket to ward off a chill in case the rooms are freezing). Bring snacks, a method to take notes, and a tote, small suitcase or large purse to hold all the conference goodies and handouts.
2. BE WILLING
If you live in the area, (but even if you don't) volunteer to help set up registration, drive speakers to and from the airport, or attend to the needs of the host for a workshop. I offered to pick up a well-known author after her flight, and ended up having a friendly and insightful conversation. I realized she has some of the same issues as we debut authors do!
3. BE FRIENDLY
Network with attendees, authors, agents and editors. Sit with them at a meal, chat in the lounge, or catch them at the end of a workshop. They are humans like you and me. No need to be intimidated! If you don't try, you'll never feel comfortable around them. And don't underestimate the importance of conversing with fellow writers, even if they haven't published yet. We all have valuable things to share. Bring business cards to pass out, and be sure to follow them on social media. Who knows where that will lead!
4. BE REALISTIC
Don't expect to land an agent or sign a contract at your very first conference. Yes, it has happened, but chances are slim. It doesn't mean you or the conference was a failure. It does mean you have accumulated tips and tricks for your writer's journey that will eventually lead to a contract. Put into practice all the things you are learning, and move forward. Good news may be around the next corner, whether that is next month or next year!
Remember those notes you took? Hopefully, while in the workshops, you highlighted or circled the items you needed to work on first. Maybe it's editing your latest manuscript, or submitting to that awesome agent you talked with -- just make sure you've perused their wishlist before submitting. Get to work immediately on those tasks. As I write this, I'm reminding myself I have not followed through on my own advice. Believe me, I will miss out if I don't move ahead. Don't be like me!
This is the first time I've attended a conference as a debut author. So I was honored to see my little MG historical fiction nestled among the great kid lit authors of the Midwest. Well, maybe a bit intimidating, too. And although I sold only one, I discovered another author had sold none. So, I didn't worry. We all need to begin somewhere. And I am firmly traveling down the path of marketing, writing and submitting.
Here I am below, ready to sign the one book purchased. But no one showed up. No worries, because two-thirds of the attendee authors didn't show, and the few that sat at their assigned place faithfully and waited, had no books to sign. But, we took photos of each other, then exchanged and signed our books. Win-win. Just not in the usual sense.
Can you think of other points to remember when attending a writer's conference? Which conferences have helped you the most on your writer's journey? Tell me in the comments below. . .
Speaking of debut authors -- The Heart Changer has 12 reviews right now. Can you help me reach 20? If you have read my story, please give me an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or Bookbub. You can copy and paste the same review to all the online sites. Easy-peasy!
I'd sure appreciate it!
Little did I know this meme would be a self-prophetic reflection of my feelings at this time. I know we are not to rely on feelings, since they can lead us astray. They are as fleeting as wind.
I want to be honest here: I'm worried. About many things.
My book, The Heart Changer launches in two days - April 26th. Does anybody really care?
I've poured my heart and soul into my novel - based on a historical event. I want my young audience to fill with hope after reading it. Life is too short and full of hard times. We all need a bit of hope. But will my book reach those who need hope? Will it get into the right hands?
What about my writerly friends - and family. Do they care? Enough to pass the word about my debut novel? Am I being too pushy? Too 'in your face' with my social media posts? I have it on a good authority that followers expect you to push the envelope when it comes to posts in the few days before publication.
Have I done enough? Too little? In the best way possible to make my book seen? Will people find it on Amazon with such an obscure tag? I was hoping for a "juvenile historical fiction" category tag, but it wasn't to be.
Will I get 50 reviews within a month of publication or less, which brings my book up in ranking on Amazon? Or more troublesome - will I get any reviews?? What if my readers don't like it? I do understand there will always be a couple of reviewers who for some reason or another, give it a 1 or 2. I've heard those ratings can reveal some truth about my story. Read my post on reviews here.
On Friday, April 26th at 8pm CST, I am hosting my very first author's FB Live event on my Page (have you liked my Page yet?) Will anyone show up? Or will I be talking to crickets?
And my FB Page Chat Party on Saturday, April 27th from 2-2:30pm? Will anyone join in to ask questions? Or will I need to entertain myself for half an hour?
As you can see, I have many concerns. But I understand it's totally normal.
My word of the year is PERSEVERANCE, and boy, I will need plenty of it during these next few weeks! Perseverance to push through the gloom of insecurity and hopelessness, and move towards HOPE. Because this one thing I know for sure - I have a great God. He wrote my story, and therefore, I needn't worry. All those readers who need hope will read my story. I will get as many reviews as He sees fit. And I will have exactly the right friends to join me in my first author's FB LIVE and Chat Party events.
You, see - He is the Heart Changer!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuts Spring of 2019 with Ambassador International.