Humor

Dear Followers of www.donnaeverhart.com


I did mention that website change, didn’t I?  Are you finding me?  No?  This is what happens when they let me have hold of the power tools.

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Juuust kidding.  I haven’t been doing the work, but, here’s what has been going on – without getting too far into the weeds.  The website is now redesigned.  As part of that redesign, it is also being supported by a new web-hosting entity.  These back end changes to enable that have resulted in two sites.

Old.  New.

You are likely not getting to the old site if you have it bookmarked.  Even though the old site could have been found under http://www.donnaeverhart.com, it was really www.donnaeverhart.wordpress.com.

That’s how you would find it today.

Meanwhile, the new site is here.  But, then I noticed my stats showed zero visitors to the new site.  And that I had zero (!!!) followers.  Which made me…

crying-woman

Hmmm.  What could be the problem?

Ah.  All of you are over there on – I mean here – on the old site – and maybe not even here because of “broken” links. (bookmark).  Yikes.  What I didn’t know was creating the new site would leave you behind.  I thought it would be a seamless transfer.

The question is, have you missed me?  If so, I would love it if you would follow me over at the new place.  Check it out.  See what you think.  At the bottom of each page, you’ll see how to follow my blog – again.

I hope to see you, HERE!

monarch-favorite

 

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Kodachrome


I got a new camera for Christmas.  My husband can’t stand to see me struggle over anything, and although I never complain, there must be a look.  A frustrated glaring at whatever device I’m mangling into some modicum of acceptable performance.

For instance, he gave me a new Dell All In One about a 18 months ago.

“I got tired of watching you squint over that ten year old laptop.”

He gave me a camera a couple Christmases ago too. He said, “it’s not an expensive one, but I thought it would be better than what you were using.”

Only, I would try to take pictures of my favorite subjects – the moon.   Dang it.  Blurry.

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A sunrise or sunset.  Dang it.  Blurry.

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Miss Priss.  Payton.  The camera was slow, and I remember trying so hard to get the perfect shot of Miss Priss eating her cake when she turned 1.  In this case there was likely frustrated declarations, “Argh!  I missed it!  Argh!  It’s blurry!  Come on Payton, just one more.  I got to get a good picture of you and Abigail.  Argh, it’s orangey!  Oh well.”

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Sure, there were some good shots too.  Like this.

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And this.  (I only took about 50 to get this one)

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Still, it could have been better.

As usual, my husband heard, and he acted.  This year, he gave me a whizz bang camera that, at the moment, is smarter than Stephen Hawking – or at least I think it is when I stare at all the buttons, and the two different lenses, and the VIDEO TAPE that came with it to tell me how to manage it.

It’s a Nikon.  As he put it, “A nice camera.”

I’m going to love it – once I know what to do with it.

 

 

New Year, New Look


Fyi, y’all.

My website is undergoing an overhaul – this time not by me, but by professionals.

Amen to that!

As much as I like plunking around and figuring out themes for a new look on occasion, the end result never quite meets my expectations when I’m done.  And then there’s the HTML code, of which I know just enough to be dangerous, but is needed to make some of the “buttons” work, or to add in giveaway information, etc.  I usually figure it out, but it can consume a lot of time.

I don’t know the exact timeframe for when the web design team will be done, I’m thinking sometime towards the third week or so of this month.

I can’t wait for you to see the new design!

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Yep, that’s me running a power tool with my Rosie the Riveter do rag on my head.  *Taken in Bucha Ukraine, Mission Trip 2006

 

Book Stalker


Folks, I’m in the throes of making some minor revisions on BITTERSWEET and wrangling holiday decorations.  When I’m not doing that, I’m trolling the ‘net, stalking my book, trying to figure out how it’s doing.  Time for some tongue in cheek, debut writer shenanigans, I mean savvy business behavior.  Oh, the things this debut writer will do.  Searching.  Analyzing.  Figuring out ways to uncover the obscure details regarding her little darlin’ that probably mean nothing, or leave her speculating.

Actually, my clumsy, puny efforts have paid off in that I have figured out a couple things, and I’ve run across some wonderful reviews too.  For instance, I kind a/sort a know how it’s doing at independent bookstores because I “happened” upon a list.

Happened is actually like discovering your kid standing in the kitchen, cheeks packed with cookies, and you ask, “how did you find them?”

“I don’t know.”

The look they give you tells you s/he went to some effort to “find” the secret stash.  So, I’ve done a little digging too.  Not to say that doing that is akin to snooping through the cabinets, but for some reason, I do feel silly, in a way, trying to discover how it’s selling.  New debut writers hope for at least a tinge of moderate success.  What that means – I don’t really know.  Yet.  Give me time.

Anyway, every now and then, a kind soul – you know who you are – will drop me a thrilling tidbit.  “The book is selling like hotcakes at…”

And!  There’s always Amazon to lurk about, and since they made it a Top Ten Pick + their Featured Debut, I find myself wandering by frequently, checking things out.  Something they’ve done for authors is like a fix for a data addict – ahem, like me.  Amazon has built some tools into the Author Page you can set up if you want.  I set mine up a few weeks ago, not really knowing what it would provide, but boy, am I glad I did.  I LOVE what they have, author ranking, sales ranking + Nielsen BookScan information.  I had to do some reading from their Help page to make sure I understood exactly what all that data meant.  I’d read somewhere in my ‘net travels that ratings drive the Amazon rankings, but, that’s not true.  Sales drive it, and that makes sense to me.  Sales are hard data targets.  Ratings are soft targets, in that ratings are simply opinions, and as we’ve heard over and over, opinions = subjective.

Nielsen BookScan updates are scheduled for 12:00 a.m. Friday and it’s the same with the independent bookstore reports of sales, which updates every Wednesday.  With Nielsen BookScan data, four to five days have passed by the time it’s released.  The most recent data came in last night (no I wasn’t up at 12:00 a.m. sweating the results – it sometimes comes early) and was for November 7 – 13 book sales, yet it’s already November 18th.  New data won’t arrive until next Friday, which means I have to cool my jets for another week.  🙂

Either way, you get the idea.  There’s a myriad of information floating around out there and it’s no wonder I find myself trolling around, looking for what I might miss.

And…every now and then someone will send me a picture of my book “in the wild” as folks like to say when it’s spotted far, far away from where it was created.  These are like extra goodies, and give me a sense of accomplishment, a “look what I did!” feeling.  The pictures below were kindly sent to me by Kim Michele Richardson (author of Liar’s Bench and Godpretty In The Tobacco Field), and Teri Carter, who’s had more op-eds, opinion pieces and essays in magazines than anyone else I know.

Miss Dixie is shown at one of the Joseph Beth Bookstores in Kentucky (left) and at the airport in Denver CO.  ***Notice that sign in the pic on the right.  Yeah.  I notice that kind of thing.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  What does it mean???  I’m sitting here sort of laughing at myself as I type this.

 

My question about all this is, don’t you think after all the work to write a book, and have it published, it’s only natural to want to know? 

 

Great Expectations


This wasn’t an easy post to write.  I’ve sat on it for days, thinking about it, and wondering if I should write about this topic at all.  It’s likely (probably) premature for me to even think the way I am, but I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m what I call an “advance worrier.”  Meaning, I worry about sh*t in advance, and likely when I shouldn’t.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  Blame Mom.  Hey, I blame her. Dad never got overly concerned about much, while Mom worries about EVERYTHING.  Here’s a snippet of our conversation recently:

Me:  Hey, what’re you doing?

Mom:  Oh, I just got this disclaimer in the mail from Medicare.

Me:  What does it say?

Mom:  That my MRI might not be covered.

Me:  Mom, we talked about this before, that’s just a standard form letter they send out.

Mom:  But they say they might not cover it.

Me:  They will.

Mom:  I don’t know.  I’m going to call them.

Me:  Do whatever you need to do for peace of mind.  So, what else is going on?

Mom:  I think I saw a snake in the yard yesterday.  I better not work outside today.

Me:  That was yesterday, it’s long gone by now.  Go get some fresh air.

Mom:  I don’t know.  The damn thing could be hiding under a bush somewhere.  Waiting.

I think I’m about a 50/50 mix of Mom’s worry and Dad’s non-ruffly nature.  Then I get something like what I’m about to say here in my head, and I even worry about my level of…worry.  Yeah, worry about worrying.  How’s that?  Then I feel that I start to sound like Mom.

Anyway.  Here’s where my head’s at.  There was a slow build up via social media comments and emails which ultimately led to my understanding my debut book is an in-house favorite with my publisher, Kensington.  (heart, be still.)  This is, in the words of a few, a really good thing and hopefully means the book will also do well once it lands in stores.  Like I told my husband, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.

Meanwhile, for the last several months, I’ve been working on my next project.  It’s a good story – if I can do it justice. (worry!)  Set in 1940, and told from the perspective of the fourteen year old daughter,  Wallis Ann Stamper, it’s about a singing family living in Appalachia who lose their home and all their possessions after a flood.  (the flood is based on historic fact)  Hunger and cold force them to leave, and try to make a living singing.  They eventually join a traveling show, where family bonds are further tested by certain events.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and this current book, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, are very different, yet I can’t help but worry about comparisons.  Stuck in my head is the idea DIXIE DUPREE is of a different caliber because I had years to work on it, tweak it, massage it, fluff it.  PERFECT it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of BITTERSWEET, but I won’t have the same sort of time to work, tweak, massage, fluff, and so I wonder – is it as good as it can be?  I don’t know.

I’ve still got some time here, and my intentions, of course, are to only send my best work – yet, (again) what if?  What if it’s not perceived in the same way as DIXIE?  No matter the stories being different, it’s about the writing.  Right?  There are expectations here – from myself, my agent, my editor, the publisher.  What if there’s head scratching?  Perplexity?  DISMAY?  Even a bunch of WTF’s?  The thought, “how did she write DIXIE DUPREE, then write…this?  I don’t even know what…this…is.”

You know what?  I hate to disappoint people, that’s what it boils down to.  I don’t like folks receiving something from me with a certain level of expectation, only to serve them up a good dose of disappointment.  What I want is for there to be the same level of enthusiasm, and excitement, and all that other great stuff – which came rather unexpectedly with DIXIE DUPREE – to happen with this story.  All the good things said about my debut have me worrying about the possible expectations with this new work.

Maybe I’m crazy to think this way – you know, before I’m even out of the gate, so to speak.  And thus, I begin worry about my worrying.  If only my worry quotient was a little more swayed, leaning more to Dad’s way versus Mom’s.  More like 80/20.

Pink room?  Softy cushy walls?  Is that what you’re thinking? 

creative-writing

 

 

Yet Another Post On Book Promo


Before writing this, I thought about how many other people have gone before me and shared about promotion and how it “sits” with them.  I’ve read tons of articles, tweets, FB posts, blog posts about this part of publication and how many authors have a kind of a love/hate feeling about it.  I’m on the fence, and really have no strong feelings in either direction (yet).

Here’s my strategy:

  • Try not to suck (this seems right as #1, don’t you think?)
  • Try not to annoy people (IDK…maybe this one ought to get #1)
  • Make promo interesting/fun (within my control)
  • *Build up a thick skin
  • *Realize I can’t fix everything

*more on these in a sec

Back when I worked at International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT, and tell me that doesn’t show some AGE.  Hello, telegraph???) now called Alcatel Lucent, I was let go after nine years with the company.  I got a job selling ITT key systems for a subsidiary known as Metro Telecom, Inc.  I HATED that sales job.  I had to “cold call.”  Walk into some business at random, ask to speak to the manager, or the person in charge, and try to tell them to spend thousands of dollars, just like that! (snaps fingers) on a new phone system.

You can imagine how successful I was.  It’s really the only sales job I’ve had – until now.

Granted, book promotion is different.  It’s not cold calling, for one, unless I decide to contact people in a mailing list to persuade them my book is something I think they’d enjoy.  That’s not my thing though.  I’d rather use a mailing list to send news about events, special prices, or share how the book is doing.  I don’t plan to email anyone and ask them to buy the book.  On my Ick Factor Scale (IFS) it ranks a -1 bazillion out of 10.  And notice that acronym?  IFS?  Yeah.  I can imagine people reading that email and thinking, uh huh, well, that’s a big IF, alright.

There are many ways to promote a book without sounding like a carnival barker.  As some of you know, I just did a traditional sort of ARC giveaway.  That’s a book promo I think works.  The publicist has suggested we do a Goodreads giveaway next month, and I think that will also be another wonderful way to promo.  In other words, when I can give something, it makes me feel better.  Be it time to answer questions, giving someone a book, or simply sharing news, I’ll always feel I’m on the right side of promotional efforts if I’m doing the giving.

That is the key word for me.  GIVING.

Now on to that *thick skinned part of the list above.  I am not thick skinned and I’m going to get bad reviews.  It is impossible to dodge that bullet because we already know reading tastes vary and are very subjective.  Not everyone is going to like my book.  That’s right, you there, you might not like it, at all.  You might even think, I can write better than this, how the hell did this happen?  I know.  How do I know?  Because I’ve had those same thoughts.  🙂

In order for promotional efforts to be authentic (hey look how much fun I’m having!), and to have the panache to face the public when I know there are 1 star reviews hanging around for everyone else to read, will require the ability to let those negative reviews go.  Or try not to read them.  (Good luck, Donna, you know you’re too nosy) Maybe I’ll just back up and re-read the good ones, and hope that sort of balances things out and move on.

On to *realizing I can’t fix everything.  For example, right now I’m very hands on with my Facebook Author page.  (www.facebook.com/donnadaviseverhart)  So, today, I was responding to a couple new comments, and I sent an invitation to a new contact to Like the page.  While I was poking around out there, FB has these analytics, and I checked that out.  I actually felt a little lurch in my heart when I saw an Unlike.  Geez.  Already???  Somebody liked my page, then unliked it?   My first thought was why?  And, what can I do?  I thought, well, if I know who, then I can reach out to them and maybe “fix” whatever caused them to unlike me.  Okay, not me, it.  But see?  That’s the thin skinned part of me, and the fix it part of me reacting.

Realistically, what can I do?  Nothing.  They have the right to do what they want.  And for all I know, this was an unlike that went right back to a like.  I just did that today.  I liked the Southern Independent Book Alliance site, and then unliked them because I wanted to “Like” them via my Author Page.  Of course I like them!  I’m a brand new member!  But, I think they would see that “unlike,” just like I did via the analytics.

Now that I’ve shared all this, I ought to print it out and keep it where I can see it.  then I should read it a few months from now and see if I still think the same way.

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.  As a reader or an author, what do you think about book promotions?

 

WINNERS! We Have Winners!


UPDATE:  FYI

One of this morning’s winners, Ginger Martin, a friend of mine from my Nortel days, has graciously declined her ARC – which means I can give it to the next person who provided the right answer within the earliest time frame.

Her reasoning?  Well, she was one of my earliest readers, and said she’s already had a sneak peek.  By early I mean, she read it when it had the “fatal flaw” (that was likely in 2010) and then again, when it became a little closer to what it is today, and that version was probably in 2011.

Therefore, AJ Blythe – you’ve won the copy!  Email me at deverhart2@nc.rr.com your address so I can send it on to you!

 

The hints and the expanded picture seemed to do it!

These were the hints:

  1. You hear them on hot summer evenings.
  2. They have wings.

And a bit more enlarged photo:

Secret Pic 2 for ARC of DIXIE DUPREE

This is the prize THREE lucky folks get:

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Three have correctly identify what is pictured below!  Two via this blog in the comments and one on Twitter!

Here is the actual “thing” in it’s full glory:

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YES!  It is a cicada!  I took this picture last summer.  Tell me that is not the most unusual looking “face” on it’s back?  Striking – and I suppose it’s there to scare off predators.  Poor things…they’re eaten by EVERYTHING.  Squirrels even.  Gross.

Here are the WINNERS!

Ginger Martincommented here on blog at 7:40 a.m.

  1. Sarah Meral – commented via Twitter using #DIXIEDUPREE at 9:10 a.m.
  2. Jennifer Dixon – commented here on blog at 9:14 a.m
  3. AJ Blythe – commented here on blog at 9:37 a.m.

Some of you JUST missed by a few minutes!

Winners, please email me at deverhart2@nc.rr.com with your mailing address and I will send you a signed ARC!

I hope you all had fun!  I sure did – especially laughing at some of your crazy answers!

HINTS! For ARC Giveaway of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE


Okay, ya’ll.  I’m sorry for making this harder than I expected.  What was I thinking???  No winners, but thank you for making me laugh with some of your guesses.

I could drag this on just to see what you come up with next, but I want WINNERS!

Therefore, here are a few hints:

  1. You hear them on hot summer evenings.
  2. They have wings.

Want one of these?  Yes, yes you do!

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The “contest” goes on until I have three winners!

The first three people to correctly identify what is pictured below – now with hints, and an expanded view of this “thing” – will win one copy each.  I will announce all the winners as an update to this post, as soon as I have three.

How to provide your answer:

  1. Blog Follower?  Drop your answer in the comments box for this post.
  2. Following me on my Facebook Author Page?  Drop your answer into the comments area there.
  3. Twitter Follower?  Send your answer via a Tweet and make sure you use #DIXIEDUPREE.

Ready?  Now take a look!  What is it?

Secret Pic 2 for ARC of DIXIE DUPREE

Hmmm.   Maybe not so mysterious now…

Come on!  You got this!

Tell me!

Advance Reader Copy Giveaway!


Would you like a sneak peek at THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE?  This is your chance to win a signed advance reader copy!

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The “contest” starts now (soon as I hit publish!) and goes on until I have three winners!

The first three people to correctly identify what this is pictured below, will win one copy each.  I will announce all the winners as an update to this post, as soon as I have three.

How to provide your answer:

  1. Blog Follower?  Drop your answer in the comments box for this post.
  2. Following me on my Facebook Author Page?  Drop your answer into the comments area there.
  3. Twitter Follower?  Send your answer via a Tweet and make sure you use #DIXIEDUPREE.

That’s all!

Oh, and, I will provide a hint –  if no one is able to identify this after a day or two.

Ready?

DIXIE DUPREE Giveaway Secret Pic

Hmmm.  Very mysterious.

What the heck is it???

Tell me!

 

The Anatomy Of A Book


I’ve always loved books, but one in my hands today is not treated the same way as it was years ago.  When I used to start reading, I would sometimes peruse the dedication page, but most often I would jump right into the story.

Not now.  Now actually meaning anytime since about 2009.   When I pick up a novel these days, I virtually dissect it.  Like that stinky little frog, or God forbid, that ginormous EARTHWORM thingy we used to have to cut into and take apart bit by bit in biology class.  That’s how I go through a book, dissecting it bit by bit.

By dissect, I mean I read/look at everything.  When I’m enamored with an author, as I am with too many to count, it’s not just about being entertained that interests me.  It’s about the skin, spine, bones, heart, lungs, eyes (vision) and brains of a book.  (yes, this post will be filled with terms using various organs I decided on; cheesy but effective, don’t you think?)

When I pick up a book now, I study the cover (skin).  This used to be the very first thing that drew me in.  With a quick first glance over the shelves, I could immediately pick out one I thought I’d like.  Since deciding to write and pursue publication, I’ve dreamed about a cover for my own book.  Today when I look at covers, I still have a penchant for a certain vibe they carry, while knowing I like many different types.

Here are a few of my favorites:

With BASTARD, the picture of the young girl and the figure of a woman nearby, hand on her hip, plus the model of the car tells you this will be a story about conflict set in a time some decades ago.  COAL RIVER and ONE FOOT IN EDEN are covers I love, portraying darkish settings which, (IMO) tells you there’s trouble ahead.  The covers evoke a sense of heaviness/darkness, serious stories about serious topics.  With CEECEE HONEYCUTT, the book was pitched as STEEL MAGNOLIAS meets THE HELP.  The hummingbird and flowers just below the scrolled volute (?) makes you envision people with sweet Southern charm who get their happy ending.

I’ve become pretty consistent about flipping the book to look at it’s spine.  This is just to see who published it, and since I started doing that years ago, I’m now familiar with many of the imprint logos.

With the cover also comes flap copy or “bones.”  By reading that, I understand the story’s structure and what it’s about.  It will tell me (in some cases) if the author used first person, third, is it from multiple narrators or one.

Next, I take a look at the heart, which to me is the dedication and the acknowledgements pages.  I call this the heart because this is where authors will likely let you have a peek at their emotions.  I like to see who the books are dedicated to because it also tells me a little bit about the author’s relationships, are they married, with or without kids?  Dogs?  Cats?  The acknowledgements gives me an idea of a book’s journey.  Who did the author know?  Who helped them?  How long did it take?  Not all of these answers are given, but after reading many, many acknowledgements and dedication pages, I usually think I know a little something more about how a particular book came to be.

Next comes the lungs, that breath deep inside, that in and out movement which pinks up our skin, makes us gasp, or laugh, or literally stop breathing during a particularly tense scene, as in…the story itself.  Self-explanatory, no?

Then, there is the vision for the book.  How does the publisher see the marketing of it?  There might be blurbs by other authors of the same genre, for one.  Sometimes these are so abundant, they fill some of the inside pages at the front along with one or two on the front cover, and the entire back cover may have them.  There are reviews to go after, and sales people who contact distribution channels to place the books in stores.

Last, but not least, the brain.  This is where you are encouraged to think about the story with Reading Guides, particularly if a difficult social issue is written into the story.  Occasionally there will be a “Conversation With <insert author name>.”

Strange, but true, I look at all of it.  Even the ISBN #’s, copyright date/s, and print editions.  And disclaimers.

The other day I picked up my next read and I spent time looking at the list of books the author has finished since his debut.  I thought, “I’m doing it again.  Dissecting.”  But it’s fun, and all of it is there for a reason, whether for the reader or the authors themselves.  And I don’t smell like formaldehyde.  That’s a plus.

Do you spend time “dissecting,” books, or am I the only one with this quirky habit?

 

 

 

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