writing books

SIBA Tradeshow


After learning I would be going to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in Savannah about two months ago, it’s hard for me to believe it’s already over with!  Like Christmas day, where we work our way up to the moment and before we’ve had a chance to let Christmas dinner digest, it seems like we’re taking the decorations down.

I was supposed to fly, but after realizing the entire trip would take 8 hours with the waiting at the airport, + the layover, etc., I decided to drive.  Friday morning I headed out at 7:00 a.m.  By the map calculations, it would take about 4 hours and 20 minutes to get there.  Admittedly, I was a little lead footed due to nerves.  Couple times I looked down and I was going about 85 m.p.h.  Yikes.  Before I knew it, I was only an hour away.

almost-there

My first event was at 2:00.  I arrived at around 11:15, found parking nearby, got checked into the hotel, and finally, registered.  How cool does that badge look, right?  That little blinking turtle thing was for a donation of $20.00 to support bookstore owners/employees, i.e. BINC which stands for Book Industry Charitable Foundation.  You can click on the link there, and read about what they do.  I also voted on the Bibb Pick – which I now realize I had my badge turned the wrong way when I took this pic, so it doesn’t show the sticker that says, “Bibb, I voted!”  For the Bibb pick, (named after Matt Bibb) you choose two independent bookstores to support, and then decide two ways to support them. The count is tallied, and whichever bookstores win, they are then supported in whichever manner chosen.  The two things I elected to do was a $ donation, + tweeting out about the bookstore.

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My first event was the all around signing at 2:00, pictured below.  Things were still being set up.  Me and little ole Dixie were right in the middle of the room.  You couldn’t miss us.  🙂

signing-event

I was also on the Southern Reads Panel which I don’t have any pictures of, because I was too nervous, the room was as tight as it could get, and we were in chairs at the front, practically in the laps of the “audience,” i.e. booksellers.  We scattered to the wind before I even thought to say “Hey, how about a few selfies?”

A few of my fellow panelists gave me copies of their books, (and DESPERATION ROAD’s Michael Farris Smith offered me a few sips of his Johnny Walker and water – which I needed.  I think I could have drank the whole thing)  Ashley Mace Havird was kind enough to hand me a copy of LIGHTNINGSTRUCK, as did our panel moderator, Martin Pousson, whose BLACK SHEEP BOY promises to be a compelling read, with plenty of Louisiana bayou steaminess.  He signed it “To Donna, with thunder.”  I love that.

The other two books…one came from an author from Raleigh author, Adam Jones’ who wrote FATE BALL.  He came forward to talk to me because of our Raleigh connection.  And the other book “IT’S NOT LIKE I KNEW HER,” by Pat Spears, I picked up during the Publisher’s exhibits, when I found out it was edited by one of my favorite authors – Dorothy Allison.

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After the two events, I spent time milling about with everyone else, having random conversations with booksellers and authors alike.

Savannah is a beautiful city.  None of the pictures I tried to take did it justice by any stretch.  There are huge oaks loaded with Spanish moss, and horse drawn buggies, and that salty scent of the Savannah river nearby. horse-drawn-buggy

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View from the room

Saturday  I made sure to drop in on the publisher’s exhibits and it seemed everyone under the sun was there.

exhibits

I made a bee line for American Bookseller’s Association – the folks who nominated DIXIE DUPREE for the Next Indie Pick, so I could thank them.  You can just make out their blue and white sign (ABA) towards the back of this pic below:

more-exhibits

In the end, I met a bunch of other authors, and was invited to come visit with booksellers, which was the whole point of the trip – so I’ll say it was a big success!

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First Interview From The Daily Record


I’m providing my first newspaper interview since many of you who follow the blog aren’t connected with me on Facebook, or on Twitter where it was shared.  I thought you’d like to read it.

Enjoy!

clip-Daily Record-FeatureAug2016-DIXIE DUPREE

Goodreads Giveaway!


Kensington has set up another Goodreads giveaway for THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE.

The contest will run June 8th –>June 27th to win one copy of an ARC or final copy!

If you’re not on Goodreads, now’s the time to join (free) because not only are there tons of these sorts of giveaways, it’s a great way to connect with authors, and readers.  Think of it like Facebook for…books!

Go here to enter the DIXIE DUPREE giveaway:  http://bit.ly/286qeUr

the education of dixie dupree

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE Final Cover


I thought I couldn’t love my cover any more, and then?  Kensington’s Art Department did a little fine tuning and this is what we now have!

There are reasons behind every decision made by my publisher.  I know why they did this little tweak, but most important is it makes me feel extraordinarily happy for everything they’re doing to support my debut.

What I want to know is…what do you think?

the education of dixie dupree

 

 

First Sentence Friday


Still in catch up mode!  This week I’m sharing the first sentences in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.

CHAPTER FIVE

In the early spring of 1969, when the yellow dust of pollen was heavy in the air, I noticed Mama’s discontent had wrapped even further around her, covering her like a shroud, becoming something we couldn’t ignore.

CHAPTER SIX

While Daddy was still gone, Mama began what I’d call a campaign, intent on telling certain folks, mostly strangers, that while she was in Alabama, she’d never be happy.

CHAPTER SEVEN

When Daddy came back from his trip, I wanted to ask him if he knew anyone named Suggs, and why Mama was so godawful worried about not being known as white trash, but the bribe of ice cream cones and her warning were enough to keep my mouth shut.

Cover DIXIE DUPREE

***I’m using #FirstSentenceFridays on Twitter and tagging @Kensington Publishing Corporation.  Follow along and tweet out/share if you’d like!***

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

 

 

Goodreads Giveaway!


Susan Wiggs’ blurb about THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE begins with this, “Open your heart to Dixie Dupree.”

I love the quote in it’s entirety, but this little snippet truly captures how I personally feel when I think of my book in a future reader’s hands.  In addition to her words, I would also add “Open your mind, consider what happens.”

Having said that…the chance for you to be the next person to “open your heart to Dixie Dupree” is here!  Today launches the Goodreads Giveaway to win an ARC.  The contest starts TODAY and goes until May 30th.

Goodreads will select ONE lucky winner (US and CANADA only) when the giveaway ends.

*NOTE:  You have to be a member of Goodreads in order to participate.  If you aren’t a member, and would like to join, go here to sign up:  Goodreads

For existing members, enter HERE http://bit.ly/1VHl25c and while you’re it, add the book to your shelf HERE http://bit.ly/1pY5Vq9 to get notified when additional giveaways are running!

Good luck!

Cover DIXIE DUPREE

I Say It’s Both


There’s this online place I visit, sometimes once a day, sometimes more – which is likely too much for my own writing good.  This online place is agent Janet Reid‘s blog.  I found her several years ago when I “entered” my serious writing stage.  Sometime back in 2011, I think.  She recently was awarded a very nice spot as one of the top 101 blogs for writers by Writers Digest.  Her blog is simply one of the best places for writers of all levels to visit.  Many of you out here already know this, but for those who don’t, or haven’t stumbled across her site yet, I say that because 1)she’s a top notch literary agent, 2)she tells it like it is, 3)with humor 4)and a dash of snark, and 5)she’s an overall industry expert.  (As to #5, this is my opinion and I know many others who feel the same way.)

Anyway, recently on one of her posts, folks started commenting, and like we tend to do, off topic it went.  We try to be good, and stay relatively in the same stratosphere of what she was posting about, but sometimes…meh, not so much.  That particular day there was a comment by one of the writers who said he “writes from the hip.”

I never did jump into the fray on this, because the Shark (a.k.a. Janet Reid) who also created Query Shark for anything and everything you ever wanted to know about writing a query, stepped in to remind everyone to stay on topic, keep individual comments to 3 or less, and no more than 100 words.  Often, too often, we get very wordy out there.

So here is where I wanted to add my two cents to that post’s off topic comments.  Like everything else with writing, there really is no right way, and no wrong way.  We each find OUR way and if it works for us, great.   First, because there are some who are now reading my posts who may not know a couple terms I’m going to use, I’ll briefly explain them.

Plotter – one who writes an outline, or synopsis of their book, beginning to end.  Plotters might carefully construct their story chapter by chapter, with the primary scenes/action and even a bit of dialogue or setting in each.  Or some might write a synopsis, knowing essentially what happens at the 50,000 foot level, from beginning to end.  The synopsis could be anywhere from 4-10 pages.

Pantster – likely self-explanatory, but for clarity, this is a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants.”  They don’t know from point A to point B what is going to happen.  They figure it out as they go along.  They sit and they write, feeling their way through as to what fits, or not.

Now that I’ve set all this up, what I wanted to say in the discussion/comments the other day is…I think we really do both.  In other words, it’s a mish-mash using both styles or techniques.  For instance, when I wrote DIXIE DUPREE, I said I used the pantster style.  I did it with book two as well.  BUT.  Although I didn’t have my beginning, middle, ending nailed down in either, I did plot them to a degree, along the way.  In other words, I had to stop writing and plan/figure out where the story needed to go.  I would decide, okay, Chapter X and Y needs to have this happen, and then I would write.

My latest WIP, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET is plotted.  I wrote a synopsis for it, which is about 4 to 5 pages detailing major events, and (yay!) I’ve stuck to it for the entire book.  But here’s the thing, despite the synopsis, there is a massive amount of writing and work to turn those 4-5 pages into a full blown story.  I know what I want to happen, but there is all that missing detail.

I was talking about the sandwich method of feedback on JR’s blog in another post, and in some ways, working with an outline brings to mind a sandwich method too.  You’ve got the bread, but nothing in between.  You still need meat, cheese, and whatever else in order to have a sandwich.  Otherwise, all you have is…two slices of bread. Even with my handy dandy synopsis, I knew nothing about how I wanted my main character to get out of a predicament, or how she would meet various characters.  Hey, some of those characters who showed up weren’t even in the outline.  Hmmm, that seems a bit pantster’ish to  me.

Writing a book is blending a bit of both pantster and plotter techniques, at least that’s my take on it. 

What’s yours?

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!

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