Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas, a time of Cheer and Tears

At my Mother's house, Christmas was always a time of excess.  We did not have a lot of money, but we had enough, because my grandparent's were there when we needed a relief plan.  My Dad worked at factory work most of his life, a sawmill and a wall board plant were both in situations where the pay was barely more than minimum wage and seasonal lay-offs occurred but there were paid vacations and health insurance.  Mom took a lot of cost cutting measures, like rewashing sandwich baggies and growing a garden and canning a lot of our food.  But Christmas she began buying for at the day after Christmas sales.

     Of course things change.  The grandparents who had always bought the extra bag of groceries and paid the occasional bill, were not there anymore.
Then my brother and I married, had kids and
moved far away.  My Dad got esophageal cancer, and went from being an energetic playmate to the grandkids one Christmas- to being in the hospital, a month away from his death the next.  So Christmas became a mixed blessing, a time of family gatherings, but also a time of the glaring absence of the ones who used to gather us together.

My new home was not where the snow began falling in September and was still there in June, like the Wyoming town where I grew up.  Instead, now Christmas meant rain, and sunny days and green grass and Redwoods and even a flaming red maple in my yard.

And it meant long 3,000 mile drives in all kinds of weather, to circulate through the various family members in all the corners of Wyoming and then return home.

Christmas became a season of sharing laughter, and gifts, card games and cookies.  Long car rides and walks through the Christmas lights.  It became a time of remembering the ones we have lost but still love and a time of celebrating New children and friends who have become family, even without the blood tie.

the handmade ornaments have come to mean more than the gold necklaces decorating the 11 million dollar Christmas tree.

It has become a hectic time filled with errands and school programs, spending more than we should, and loving more than we ever thought we could.

And this year, with our baby being an impatient, out the door every chance he gets, High school senior, and his brother being only a year behind him, we see that Christmas will be changing again.

I want to dig in my fingernails and hold on tight,
I want to wrap my arms around them and turn on all the lights

I know it has to change
and I guess that is why
every moment with the ones we love
we celebrate with a sigh

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Promoting My Book

Once  took the step of self publishing, I had to become more than a writer.  I had to leave my quiet desk, and talk about my writing.  Up to that point, I never talked about what I was writing, only about the fact that I did write.  The stories and poems that flowed through my head were private and even though I loved them, I had been afraid to share them.  Now I had a book in my hands, but I wanted to get it into other peoples hands.  At first, I did it in privacy.  I sent e-mails and letters to friends and family.  I posted about it in forums and on facebook.  But I didn't have to see anyone's face as they studied the cover, and read the back blurb.

Then I got a Twitter, "Tweet" that said, something like this, "the sooner you learn to love book promotion, the sooner you will succeed at it."

So I set out to force myself to love this act which felt like peeling my skin off in public and inviting the public to look for imperfections. And guess what?  I found that I do love it, in the small, hometown way I am doing it.  I am not offering competition to C.S. lewis, or J.K. Rowling - but in my own way - I am having a fun time, and selling my Novel in the process.

The Most success that I have had, has been not on Amazon or Createspace, although both have sold some copies for me.  The most success has come face-to-face, letting people ask me questions and hold, "Duffy Barkley is Not a Dog", in their hands as they talk to me.

Arts and Craft fairs, I took my books, a card table and a standing display board with the book cover, a list of places people could find the book, something about NaNoWriMo, a little about me and the Map of Uhrlin from in my novel.  I took up very little space at the fairs so some of them let me in for a reduced rate so they could advertise a book signing as part of their attractions, imagine that!  I sold 7 at the first fair and 6 at the second I went to, and then people knew me and started inviting me to other shows. (Plus other vendors gave me a discount on some great Christmas gifts)

So far, stores in three states have agreed to buy my books for about 70% of what they sell for an Amazon, so that they can sell them for the same price.  i really want to thank the Crescent City, CA Walgreen's for being the first to stock my book, as well as other local author's and the artwork and Photography of locals.

Walgreens - 787 L St,Crescent City, CA 95531

The Thistle books, in Cody, Wyoming has been wonderful in carrying my novel as well, thanks to my Mom for approaching them for me.

1243 Rumsey Ave
CodyWY 82414

Gold Beach Books and Biscuit coffeehouse in Gold Beach, Oregon was  a lovely bookstore and art gallery.  I took a chance and gave a copy to the clerk, and was rewarded with a call just days later asking to buy six copies.

So I am learning to always carry a copy of my book, it slips in my purse and I have learned that it is its own best salesperson.  I can give away a copy, knowing that it will be out there, quietly letting the world know that it exists, and one book given, seems to result in more sales.  I am not getting rich, any profit, I use to order more books, and I love giving copies to libraries and classrooms.

Speaking of giving away copies to classrooms - teachers love books.  No secret there, and if you can convince a school to let you put a display in the staffroom, I have found that leaving it there, with an envelope for checks, means that after 3 days, there have been sales, especially if I time it over payday for the staff.

So, have fun talking up your book, and if you have any promotion ideas, I'd love to hear from you.

Dixie Goode