Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Scratching the Holiday Shopping Itch

I heard on the news this morning Americans plan to spend $100 less on gift giving this year than last. The reason: More money is going into our gas tanks. If someone asked me that question for a national poll, I would probably say the same thing. Besides more money going into my ever-thirsty Honda minivan, my gift list is shrinking. I have no children at home anymore. While I just got a new grandson on October 29th, I don't buy the amount of gifts I did when my son was at home.

My sisters and I have agreed to downsize this year for the above mentioned reasons. I believe most people polled, me included, have every intention of spending less this year. But what happens as soon as the stores open the day after Thanksgiving...(Do they ever really close?) We run to the stores to spend those hard earned dollars on gifts. Forget gas prices for one day.

I love shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, that makes me either suicidal, homicidal, or just down right psychotic, but you couldn't keep me away with razor wire. I love getting up early, dusting off my running shoes and charge cards and hitting those early bird specials. According to store ads, most of them are even opening up an hour earlier than last year.

Can I make it? Do I have the fortitude? Your darn tootin'. I can't wait.
I am not ordinarily a shopper. Nor do I like to part with my hard earned money. I recycle aluminum foil, for crying out loud. But not the day after Christmas. The budget I planned to stringently adhere to is tucked away in my sock drawer at home. I love to buy for my family. I love to imagine the looks on the faces of those I hold dear when they open the perfect gift I chose so carefully. And it only happens once a year. Right? So I'll go a little overboard. I'll spend more than I said I would. But if I didn't, I would kick myself on Christmas morning if I let my usual spendthrifty nature rule my heart.

The gloves are off. I've got an itch, and I can't wait for Friday to scratch it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Short work week

Here it is the week of Thanksgiving and my Christmas craft fair schedule is winding down. I've met a lot of people and sold quite a few books in the last month, with plenty of time left over for holiday shopping and preparations. I have another craft fair this weekend in Chillicothe, Ohio, and then at least one weekend off. Maybe more if I decide to skip another one I have a chance to attend.

This flurry of activity has been fun and profitable. Last weekend at the Jingle Bell Craft Show in Waverly, Ohio, I sold 20 books and passed out over a hundred flyers. Many people told me they had read at least one of my books and they enjoyed it. That's fun to hear. After all the blood, sweat, and tears, my name is finally getting out there.

Just saw the cover of my next release, Redemption's Song, due out early 2006, and it is lovely. I can't wait to get my hands on the book. Waiting for a book is like waiting for a baby. Exciting, a little scary, and so many decisions to make.

Time after time, I see God's hand in this process. Exciting things are happening at the publisher's which couldn't have come about without God opening doors and creating opportunities. Found an unexpected review for A Tender Reed in Booklist trade magazine. Judy Lindley from the Hillsboro Public Library sent me a copy. Thoughtful of her. I've made new friends everywhere I turn and I'm thankful.

Craft Fairs

If you haven't already booked every weekend from Halloween to Christmas with craft fairs where you can set up a booth to sell your books, it isn't too late. There are six remaining weekends from this moment until Christmas, not counting the weekend of Christmas. I mean, who wants to spend their Christmas Eve in a middle school gymnasium or the basement of a church with every other vendor in the county, appealing to those last minute shoppers when you really need to be home wrapping your own last minute gifts?

Craft fairs are an excellent, and often inexpensive way, to get some visibility for you and your product. Here in rural Ohio, the average cost is around $25 for a 10x10 spot for a one day event. I can usually sell about a dozen books. Not bad considering the hundreds of flyers I pass out and the countless times I get to run through my sales pitch for whoever slows down and makes eye contact. Yes, by the end of the day, my face hurts from smiling and talking, but I love meeting readers and recruiting new ones.

People are still amazed and thrilled to meet a real live published author. It doesn't hurt if you live locally either. So if you haven't already done so, start perusing your local papers for craft bazaars and fairs within a fifty mile radius of home...farther, if you don't mind driving. Don't be afraid to check on the ones whose application deadlines have already passed. They are seldom so full they can't squeeze you in, be it hallway or janitor's closet.

Believe it or not, there are still book buyers out there who don't frequent libraries or bookstores. And what better gift for anyone on your list than an autographed book from a local author? At least that's what I tell the people who stop at my table. The most fun part of the day for me is hearing that the book I just autographed is destined to end up under someone's Christmas tree. What a kick to think someone is going to open my book on Christmas morning. I hope they love it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Where have you been?

Sorry it has been so long since I created a new post! Like everyone else, this is an incredibly amazing and busy time of the year for me. Most of the leaves are off the trees here in southern Ohio, and I still don't have any bulbs in the ground for next spring. Shame on me!

But I'm keeping busy. I just finished the first pass proofs for my third novel coming out in January. It's entitled Redemption's Song. I got the title from a line in an old Alfred Brumley hymn. Remember him? He's most famous for his hymn, I'll Fly Away.

He also wrote a beautiful hymn: Jesus, Hold my Hand, in 1933. My publisher notified me several months ago that I would have to change the original title of the book, Beyond Redemption, because of a book by Gary Smalley and Karen Kingsbury. I was bummed. Titles are harder for me than the book, and I thought I had a good one with Beyond Redemption.

But what could I do? I don't have the punch behind my name like Gary Smalley or Karen Kingsbury...not yet anyway. I couldn't think of a thing. Then as I was falling asleep that night, a line from a song kept going thru my head. And sing redemption's song one day. That's all I could remember. The next morning I asked my friends if they recognized it, but no one could remember it either.

So I googled that line. And there was the whole song right in front of me. And guess what? It fit the premise of the book perfectly. This is the second verse of the song. I absolutely love it.

Let me travel in the light divine, that I may see the blessed way.
Keep me that I may be holy thine, and sing redemption song one day.
I will be a soldier brave and true, and ever firmly take a stand.
For there's no other friend on whom I can depend;
Blessed Jesus, hold my hand.

I believe God put the line of that song in my head. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out. It is the second in the series of Jenna's Creek Novels. I hope those who read it, will fall in love with the residents of Jenna's Creek, Ohio, as I have. I finished Book 3 of the series last month so it will be on its way to the publisher soon.

Now, I'm at an exciting juncture, where I get to decide on which new novel idea to pursue. I currently have 5 or 6 rattling around in my head. I'll have to be quiet and listen for which one is making the most noise.