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Friday, November 25, 2011

Thoughts on the Day After Thanksgiving

There is that moment after you have finished dessert on Thanksgiving Day that reality settles in and you realize you have stuffed yourself to the point of no return. You feel you will explode if you take another bite. You retreat to the comfort of the soft sofa and sit back against a pillow. Your stomach is distended and you think you can't eat another thing. Yet at the same time there is a serenity and a relaxation. Your eyes are heavy and your brain can't accept more than TV or playing mindless games on your IPhone. Such a moment happened to me last night after Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's place. The amount of dishes there was dizzying. But here was tradition with the mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and of course, the turkey. I'm a dark meat person, but I always like to taste the white meat too. And oh, yes, the stuffing and the cranberry sauce. The food was delicious and likewise the company was also wonderful.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on your blessings and this year I have had many. As I sat at the table with my family and guests I could look over to the coffee table in the living room which held a pile of my print books, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, ready to be signed. My husband, whose health has been in question for several years, sat at my side and two of my soon-to-be-readers were seated at the same table. I am thankful for so many things this year besides the publishing of my book in both e-book and print. I am thankful to have met so many amazing authors at MuseItUp Publishing. My life has been so enhanced by becoming part of this spectacular group of people. You know I don't usually single people out on this blog unless they are being interviewed or there is another good reason. I won't do that now, but you know who you are. You are the people who keep me sane every day by reassuring me that whatever it is that has bothered me can be taken care of by a hug or a smile. You bring your own aggravations and I see that everyone goes through the same thing I do.

Writers are not like normal people. I have accepted this as I read about the same insecurities and worries we all seem to have in common. Yet on Thanksgiving many of you shared your joy and gave thanks for being in the group. I am honored to be in the presence of many of you. Meeting some of you has given me so much joy! I am thankful for that too!!

Anyway, back to the sofa and the discussion after dinner. Two of the guests were in high school and it was fun hearing about their experiences. Then the discussion came down to my book. My brother had just finished reading it and my husband and one daughter have read it too. It was fun hearing how my husband and brother enjoyed reading it. My husband said he couldn't put it down and my brother enjoyed the ending. I guess that was the moment I was truly thankful for, because I realize my book appeals to men and boys too! When a writer sees that your words affect people there is a connection that makes you feel it was all worthwhile. The hours and hours of writing and rewriting and then editing and re-editing and finally the joy of bringing your words out to the world were all worth it!!

Finally, I am thankful that people still read this blog.:) I haven't been great about posting, because I don't write unless I have a real reason to do so. On this note, I have decided to share with you a flash story I wrote. You can call it my Black Friday Special. I hope you enjoy it!!

The Carnival

“Step right up and play the game. Three shots for a quarter and you can win a prize for your girl if you hit the bulls’- eye three times.”

The carnival barker handed a gun to the teenager.

“Yes, Billy. Come on do it. Win me a panda, please!” Billy’s girlfriend said.

“Oh, what the hell. I’m a good shot.” He aimed the gun and hit the bulls” eye.

“Lucky shot, kid.”

Billy shot at the target two more times and hit it every time.

The barker handed Billy's girlfriend the panda. He came out of his booth and grabbed the boy. “You are the chosen one. Take this and wait here.” The barker handed Billy a shiny red gun that looked like a toy. “They will come. You must shoot whatever comes.”

“What’s this?” Billy said.

“It’s a ray gun. A spaceship is coming to get me and I don’t wanna go. You’re the best shot I’ve found.” The barker took Billy by the shoulders. "Listen kid, I like it here on Earth. Don’t make me go back to my planet. I’m on the run from the law.”

“Why should I do it for you?”

“I’ll give you all my prizes if you do.” The barker said.

Billy’s girlfriend jumped up and down and said, “Do it sweetie. Do it for me.” She batted her eyelashes and gave him kisses all over his face.

“What’ll this thing do?”

“You’ll see.” The barker said backing up to his booth.

The spaceship arrived and a chartreuse figure stepped out of the door. Billy aimed the ray gun and shot it. The figure vaporized and the spaceship disappeared.

“I’ll need all your stuffed animals and prizes now.” Billy looked for the barker. He was gone. Billy and his girlfriend raided the shelves and carried the stuffed animals and prizes back to their spaceship parked behind the trees.

“You were funny pretending you’d never seen a ray gun.” Billy’s girlfriend said.

“Yeah, and so were you. The travel agent was right. Earth is a great day trip.”

Billy and his girlfriend unzipped their skin and headed back to their own planet.
copyright, 2007 by Barbara Ehrentreu

Until the next time, I hope everyone who celebrated it had a great Thanksgiving. Thank you to all the people who continue to follow me and read my meanderings. If you notice I added a page for Readers/Teachers who might want to discuss the book. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need any clarification or would like to discuss the questions with me. I am also available for school visits as well.

My next Blog Talk Radio show will be on December 22nd, a little change from my usual scheduling. I hope you will join me to hear all the guests from the previous year read their holidays stories to you. This is one of my favorite shows and I hope you will join us. Don't worry, I will remind you.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Comes After Publishing Your Book?

This weekend I had a discussion with my daughters. One of whom believes I should have gone with a larger publisher and the other who works with figures related to the book industry. Both of them told me I wasn't doing enough to promote my book. This got me thinking about last year at this time. All I wanted was to see my book in print and I knew it was going to be an ebook. So I also knew I wouldn't have the thrill of holding it in my hand and leafing through its pages. Yet I was filled with a euphoria that didn't seem to wear off for months. After years of trying to get my book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, published it was going out there to the world. On Thanksgiving I gave thanks for my being accepted for publication. This Thanksgiving I will give thanks that it was published!!!!

No, it wasn't going to be published by a big six publisher and I knew that there would be differences. The biggest one being I wouldn't get an advance, but so many of my friends had published with the so-called big publishers and their books didn't sell enough. So they had to give back part of their advance or their books were pulled out of print fast. What I did know was that I was going to get a better royalty for having an e-book and I thrilled at all the stories touting the success of e-books. Mine was going to be part of the growing trend to read on Kindles and Nooks and IPads.

So I promoted myself by appearing on blogs and I took part in an online reading. I amassed lots of friends on Facebook and Twitter and soon people started wanting to be my friend without my doing anything at all. I joined lots of writing groups and became vocal in some of them. I became a part of my publisher's author loops and made friends with the authors there. On my radio show and on this blog I invited many of the Muse authors and in September, the month in which my book was published, I took part in a month long blog fest! On the day of my book launch I held a day long blog party here on this blog where I gave out a free copy of my book to the lucky winner of the comment drawing. Later in the week I held a private book launch in the lobby of my apartment complex and printed up postcards, which I signed, for the event. I also gave out book marks and had a drawing for a free e-book. On my radio show I invited more Muse authors and interviewed and was interviewed by several different authors on my blog and on radio all summer culminating in the giant blog fest. I took part in an in person book signing at my sister-in-law's Fall Cleaning party and I signed more postcards and gave out more book marks.

Just an aside for a minute, my sister-in-law is part of a wonderful group called Happy Doll that brings dolls to kids in the hospital and in schools. The kids then decorate these dolls and send them on to other children around the world. She has expanded this group from a few dedicated people to where they have their own office and travel everywhere for this amazing cause. The other night I had the privilege to be part of the doll stuffing team and it was so great to know that these dolls were going to bring joy to so many children. I thought you might enjoy seeing the lovely Happy Doll website and reading the stories of these children.

Okay, now back to what I was saying.

Meanwhile, in my every day life I gave a signed postcard and a book mark to anyone with whom I had any personal contact including my doctor and dentist and his receptionist. If I spoke with anyone about my book I gave them a signed postcard and a book mark. Then a chance to meet more Muse authors came about as I took part in the Retreat in Montreal. I haven't really said much about it here, since so many other authors who were there chronicled it so well, but it was an amazing experience. I met so many wonderful authors and best of all I met my readers. The best thing about this was that after three years of writing and revising the book and five years of trying to get it published I was able at last to hold it in my hand! The night before the book signing we had a dinner where we were all introduced to the books in print. I held the print book in my hand and at last had the feeling I had been waiting for all my life. I was finally able to leaf through the pages and feel the concreteness of it. The feeling was indescribable. Signing my book to the children and teens who were the focus of it was another incredible feeling. Their smiles and excitement assured me that I was on the right track. The print book exceeded my expectations and I was able to sell all the copies I had except for one, which I took back to my family to show them.

Finding I needed to read my favorite part of the book again, I did. My eyes welled with tears at the end as they always do. I am very proud of the whole experience of this book. It isn't about a werewolf or a vampire. It doesn't have any dead parents or anyone with an incurable disease. No one commits suicide in it and there is no violence whatsoever in it. It isn't a fantasy or a sci fi or a paranormal story. There is no world building or armageddon in it. Maybe that's why it had such a difficult time being accepted. But my publisher loved it and took a chance that other people would love it. So far I have six really great 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. Has it rocked the universe? Am I a bestseller? Not that I know of, but my publisher says to be patient, because it is only out there a couple of months.

Now I am wondering. Do enough people know about my book? Does anyone have any ideas on how I can get more reviews without spamming my friends? I have gotten those releases that ask you to read the book and review it from different people and I have seen the promotions on Facebook and the mass mailings from Goodreads and even LinkedIn. What do you think of these? Should I do that? Or should I send a mass mailing to all of my friends on Facebook? I haven't done any of these. I would love your thoughts on this:)

Until the next time, I noticed I keep gaining and losing a follower. I am very sorry I didn't post for a few weeks, but I have been busy every day. Like any writer I don't like to sit down and put anything on this blog. If I have to search for something to write I'd rather not write anything at all.:) For my loyal followers who check all the time, I hope you understand and will forgive me. I have been posting on DowntownYA each week every Saturday, though.

Also I would like to remind everyone that my story, "Cancer Didn't Get Him" is in Lavender Dreams, an anthology in the memory of cancer victims. All profits go to cancer research. Three of my poems are going to be an anthology called, Prompted, which will be available soon. It is something very special, because we as a group, The Anthologists, conceived and put this together in a very harmonious fashion. We had the help of the talented Dr. Pearl Prilik and Laurie and Michelle. The profits from this are going to literacy research. While I was in Montreal I found out my flash stories were going to be in "The Book Breeze", which is a magazine that is distributed to authors at festivals and conventions in print. It is also available online if you want to read them. Anyone who has followed me for awhile or even read my other stories will enjoy the change in writing here. There might be an alien or two!!

My Blog Talk Radio show, RRWL Tales from the Pages will be on Tuesday, November 22nd. My guests will be Janie Franz and Amy McCorkle. I am sure there will be other people who might pop in too!  My December show is going to be filled with guests from previous shows reading Holiday stories. I love my Christmas show and we usually have a great time! I hope you will be able to join me on either of these dates. On my Christmas show I will be bringing back the funny and delightful Mr. J, whose book, Meet Mr. J  has brought tears of laughter and frustration to many. He is someone you will not want to miss.

Don't forget to leave a comment about how I can get more reviews. I am giving out a free e-book to the winner of the comment drawing. Of course I will expect you to review it.:) Just kidding! No pressure:)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Going to the MuseItUp Publishing Retreat in Montreal!!

I haven't posted in awhile due to my very busy real life, but I wanted to let everyone know that I will be at the MuseItUp Retreat in Montreal this weekend. I will be one of thirty or more authors from MuseItUp Publishing who will be signing books at Zeller's, a big bookstore in Montreal.

Since my book was released in September I have been trying to let everyone know about it. But I haven't had a chance to do any real book signing, because my book has been an e-book. Much as I love the idea of that and how convenient it is for so many people, I long to have a book in my hand, turn the page and sign my name for a reader. I have signed postcards and given out book marks, but I can't wait to hold the print copy in my hand this weekend!!

Yes, if you didn't already know, my book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, is now in print and will be available soon. I am very excited also to meet all my fellow authors, since we have only met over the internet. As rewarding as that can be, there is nothing like meeting someone in person!!!

In honor of my book getting into print I am posting a free chapter!

On my radio show my publisher, Lea Schizas and her business partner, Litsa Kamateros have been copied on an interview they had with a big Montreal station. You can hear part of Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages if you play it on your own player. For some reason it cuts out after a few minutes. But you will hear the interview on here.

If you live anywhere near this event, please come out to meet me and support all of our fantastic authors!! There are prizes and food too! Here is another ad for the retreat in The Gazette: West Island.

It will run from 1PM to 5PM. I would love to meet all of you!!! I will be leaving tomorrow morning and come back on Sunday evening. Hope you all have a great weekend!!

Until the next time, thank you to all my followers who have been patient and I will be back blogging next week. I have a lot of great authors lined up for then.
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