Include Your Passion in Your Writing

Today I pulled out a picture book I created for health class back in middle school. I laughed out loud when I saw it because 25 years later, I am once again drawing body cells with cartoon eyes.

disease book 1I’m working on a series of blog posts for Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating wherein I interview various organs whose body has recently been diagnosed with type two diabetes. Everyone’s blaming the disease on Pancreas, of course, but she claims it’s the fault of Muscle or the Kidney Twins.  In the illustrations, the organs sit in armchairs to chat with the hostess and I’m having fun adding silly mustaches to glucose and endoplasmic reticulum hair to exhausted cells.

disease book 2The blast from the past book got me thinking about where our interests and passions begin: some come naturally and some come from the influence of others. For example, my mother is a high school biology teacher who tries to make biology memorable for her students. To this day, my siblings and I can name the phases of cell reproduction because Mom invented a tale of lovers torn apart that made the phases fun. Just last month I spotted two giant stuffed sock ribosomes in the guest bedroom, ready for class. Mom is fascinated with biology, which led to my own fascination with how the body works. Mix in the conviction (and living proof) that learning can be fun, and voila! You get nerdy kidneys arguing about mustached glucose on a healthy living blog.

disease book 3What are some of your passions? Do you include them in your writing?

For a good time and a better understanding of type two diabetes, check out The Diabetes Debate: Whose Fault is it?

Author Doubts

jungleBefore I got published, I was convinced not only that the grass is greener on the other side, but that published writers are having an eternal backyard barbecue on that green grass. I’ve made it over the fence to the other side (Huzzah!) and have discovered that the fence does not protect a lush manicured lawn; it encloses a lush, exciting, productive, yet potentially perilous jungle. It is green, yes, but when you enter in, you discover how clueless you really are about publishing, marketing, machete wielding, and career growth.

2016 PERU 018My first book has been out for nine months and has not hit the best seller lists, so what is the logical course of action? Obviously it’s to start doubting myself as an author. (Logic is not part of jungle life.) Can I make a career of this? Am I fit enough to survive in the jungle?

At church last week we studied the Israelites in the wilderness. For those of you not familiar with their history, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and begged God to set them free. God used ten spectacular plagues to do so, culminating in the destruction of Egypt’s army so no one would follow the ex-slaves. They were free, just like they’d always wanted.

2016 PERU 013However — begin self righteous eye roll — instead of being grateful, they grumbled, they doubted, they bemoaned their very freedom. I realized that here I am — quickly end self righteous eye roll — finally over the fence and in the published author jungle, and I am grumbling and doubting. When I look back, I see God lining up life and times like dominoes ready to fall and create a picture:

The night I cracked myself up in the car coming up with the title Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating. So I was encouraged to lose weight.

The writers conference where EVERY workshop I entered said I must blog, blog, BLOG to succeed as an author. So I started to blog.

2016 PERU 068The writers conference where no editors were looking for romance novels (and pigs flew) so I showed them my blog instead. So I was encouraged to turn the blog into a book.

The publisher my agent found (and can’t remember how) who publishes humorous healthy living books. And so I climbed over the fence to the greener side.

2016 PERU 031Publishing is a jungle: there is much to learn and work to do in order to survive and thrive. But I’m finished with grumbling and doubting. I don’t know if I’ll end up living in this jungle in a palace or in a hut, but I’m grateful to be here and I know God is with me. What better adventure could a new author ask for?

 

 

Images courtesy of: Crafthubs (green jungle), and my trip to Costa Rica

 

Romancing Great Falls

Great Falls National Park in Virginia has beauty, history, and enough boulders to please a mountain goat. It’s also one of the settings in my second contemporary romance novel and I’ve had a lot of fun incorporating the Falls into the story.

great-falls-nationalLet’s start with the great falls themselves. There are two major lookouts to view the natural wonder and the view is impressive. Nothing says romance like a waterfall.

 

IMG_4231Great Falls National Park is a bit like an outdoor United Nations. People of every nationality gather to hike, climb, picnic, and explore. My hero, Javier, is the descendant of Guatemalan refugees.

IMG_4232One of the coolest things about the park is that you can climb up, down, and around the huge boulders that flank the Potomac River. My heroine, Hillary, likes to explore off the main trails.

 

IMG_4238There’s so much history at the falls: floods, drownings, a booming canal town, and even an amusement park. The writer part of me goes crazy with the possible plot lines that history presents.

IMG_4225

I usually visit the park with my four children, so romance is not my focus, but it’s been a lot of fun revisiting the park as I write and seeing it through the eyes of a young couple figuring out who and what in life will be their priority.

Writer-speak

coffee-bookLast week I had coffee with a friend I met at a writers conference and I had the best time. It wasn’t just our common interests, our common faith, or the fact that she’s really cool that made it great. It was our ability to communicate in Writer-speak.

I complained about the head hopping in the novel I’m reading, shared my hope that I’m adequately using deep POV in the novel I’m writing, and bemoaned platform building and she UNDERSTOOD. I didn’t have to explain the terms, didn’t have to explain the publishing process or my writerly struggles. Together we celebrated our seemingly-insignificant-to-the-outside-world-but-huge-for-a-writer-little-daily-victories we’d had.

I encourage you to find a writer friend (or friends) if you haven’t already. Conferences are great places to meet like-minded writers. They will share your passion for writing, they will “get you”, and they will encourage you in a way only a fellow writer speaking Writer-speak can.

 

So Boaz said, “Come aside, friend, sit down here.” So he came aside and sat down. Ruth 4:1b

Image courtesy of The Coffee Book Tag

 

Selling Your Book at Events and Fairs

img_3490I’ve had tables at four events in three months trying to promote and sell my book and here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Before you sign up for an event, check out the event’s promotion. If the event isn’t being promoted well, foot traffic will be light, and your sales will suffer. A well promoted event becomes a well attended event.
  2. Keep your expectations in check. That may sound pessimistic, but if you expect to sell 100 books an hour, you will be sorely disappointed. Focus on getting the word out: hand out business cards or bookmarks that promote your book and get people to sign up for your newsletter. Selling the book right on the spot is a bonus.
  3. Be bold! You can draw people to your table with nice displays and bowls of candy, but at some point you have to open your mouth, hold out a card or a bookmark and say “Hi, check out my blog/book. It’s funny/witty/useful/a great story/can change your life.” Be ready with your tagline, that one sentence catchy answer to “What’s your book about?”
  4. Do the math. How many books do you need to sell to make that table fee worth it? Line up as many free or cheap tables at events as you can.

What have been your experiences with selling books at events and fairs? Has it gone well? Have you sworn never to rent a table again? Any tips to add? I’m still learning!

My First Book Fair

hockessin-fair-posterThis weekend I will be participating in my first book fair, the Hockessin Art and Book Fair.  I’ve been collecting tips from friends, blogs, and YouTube, and here are my favorites:

  1. Do a practice run. Set up your table at home and take a picture of the finished product. You do your fiddling, forgetting, and fretting at home at your leisure, and on the day of the fair, you simply look at your photo and recreate it. Saves time on the day of and helps ensure a nice looking table.
  2. Use props and vary their elevation. Flat paper and flat books do not a thrilling visual make. Props related to your book help draw attention to your table and stacking or propping items and books at different levels helps keep your table looking interesting.
  3. Come prepared to be paid. Test your credit card app to make sure it works, bring small bills to make change, and make yourself a small sign saying what forms of payment you accept. Have prices listed clearly and consider offering a deal or two.
  4. Take pictures of your table and yourself at the fair to use later in blog posts, newsletters, or book promotions.
  5. Have something people can take with them to remind them of you such as a business card, bookmark, etc. They might not buy your book today, but if they have something to remember you by, they just might purchase later.

If you have any tips to add, please do so in the comments!

 

Thank you for some great tips:

Carli Milacci http://www.lensoflight.com/ Lens of Light Photography

Stefanie Newell https://www.youtube.com/user/thelifeofawriter Author and Consultant

Realmscapes

realmscapes In all the excitement over my own book coming out this summer, I never mentioned another exciting publication that also came out this summer: Realmscapes: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology. Brimstone Fiction ran a contest for short stories last year and the finalists’ entries were compiled into this gem of a book. (My short story Bipedal Idiots is part of it, so I’m a little biased.) 

I’ve always fancied novels, but last year I picked up 101 Science Fiction Stories (Avenel Books, 1987) and it filled a need I hadn’t realized I had. Sometimes I look at a thick ol’ novel and think “Not today, I don’t have the time and attention span to invest in another world right now”. Enter short story anthologies! They give you a hit of your favorite genre but if you can’t remember what you read a week ago when you last picked it up, that’s okay. A fresh story awaits you.

If you haven’t read a short story since high school English class, give it a try. Short can be fabulous.