WOTS

It’s taken me awhile to unwind from Sunday. It was a pretty amazing day. I got to meet some interesting people, see some of my favourite authors and, I even had the chance to meet the children’s book editor who originally accepted my story for publication and the editor who worked on the book with me. They were nice and friendly and SO young that when I was first approached by them I honestly thought they were a couple of high school kids! No kidding. I’ve been told that’s a common misconception once you reach a “certain age.” Perhaps that is the case although I think somewhere in the back of my mind I have a preconceived idea about editors being older— shall I say– “more seasoned.” So much for preconceived ideas!! They apparently recognized me from the author photo I’d sent in for the book. Well, at least I look like the photo I submitted. I guess that’s saying something.

I ran into Syr Ruus a few times and we chatted a bit. It was her first time at Word on the Street also. I would have liked to have heard her read but I was listening to someone else at the time. Did I mention how nice she is? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I did in an earlier post. I went to the Nimbus table and saw the poster for my book. Pretty cool! There was a lot to take in and I know I didn’t get the chance to see everything. We were there for about four hours and by the time we left I was beat!

We started out early that day because it is a fairly long drive into the city. We went as far as our son’s apartment in Bedford and from there he drove us to the Cunard Centre. I can honestly say I was more frightened by my son’s “city driving” than I was doing the reading. No kidding! City drivers are so aggressive. I guess they need to be but… But wow! Give me a country road any day.

My reading went well and I didn’t have any nerves at all, especially once I saw where I’d be reading and we had a chance to sit in on a reading or two. Since WOTS is a two hour drive from East Dalhousie I knew there wouldn’t be anyone from home there except for my husband, but that was fine. I knew most of the people who came to hear me read, a few I didn’t but that didn’t bother me. Several times through the course of the reading I saw folks standing just outside the reading area listening in. I think I said in an earlier post I was under no illusions as to how many people would show up to hear me read, also there were five other readings going on at the same time in various places and let’s face it, no one knows me. My book isn’t even out yet. I had a few questions thrown at me afterwards which I handle as best I could. I’m not as a rule used to answering questions about writing, other than “When’s your book coming out?” and “When’s the book launch?” It was good practice and one that I felt was a valuable learning experience. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go.

So what’s next? Time to relax and wait for the book launch day!

Preparations

I’ve been thinking about my reading on Sunday a lot this past week. I suppose that’s only natural. I’d like to make sure that the excerpt I read is interesting and  since there are shifts back and forth in the story, I didn’t want to  confuse the listener, either. I’d sort of like to read the third chapter but I find it a bit emotional and so I decided to stick with something safer.

I’m to tell a little bit about the book, set up for the excerpt and then read for 10-15 minutes. They’ve allowed time for Q&A afterward. I opted for the minimum time, since this is my first time at such an event.

I had an email from another first time author who will also be reading and she tells me she hasn’t put a whole lot of thought into it. Although I have read my work in public on a few occasions to small crowds, this will be her first time. Is this a fool hearty move on her part? For a fleeting moment I thought, it sure is.

I like to be prepared. I need to be prepared. But when I stop and think about it all my preparation, all my fretting over which chapters to read (since they are short chapters I will need to read two) isn’t going to change anything the moment I start reading on Sunday. I’ll either mess up or I won’t. This other author will likely choose her excerpt and read it over a few times the night before. Likely when it all comes down to it no one’s even going to know the difference. I mean, how many times can you read something over? Even reading it over in practice you can stumble a time or two and even if you don’t stumble while practicing that doesn’t insure you won’t when you’re reading it for real . And is it even that big a deal if you do stumble? Heck I never signed up to be perfect.

I know I never seem to mind if I’m listening to someone else and they falter. In fact, I go away without thinking about it at all. Is anyone even going to care or remember once all is said and done? I’m not under any illusions here. I’m pretty small potatoes when it comes to some of the other seasoned authors who will be reading that day. I’m reading right after Vicki Grant…an award winning author. It might have been nice had they lumped all of us first timers together but for some reason the organizers at WOTS didn’t bother to ask my opinion. Go figure!

So I’ve prepared as much as I can. I’ll wait until Saturday evening and go over it a few times. I’ll arrive early at WOTS, hopefully meet some authors whose work I admire, perhaps buy some books. My son will snap some pictures of me smiling my face off. When 1:00 comes and someone from WOTS introduces me I’ll step forward and do my thing. Will I be nervous? You bet!! But likely there will be others who are feeling the same way.  It’s all for the sake of my book and putting it out there so I guess you do what you have to do. There’s no turning back now. Hopefully, someone will be interested in my book and when it arrives on the bookshelves they’ll buy it. Wish me luck, people. What have I got to loose?

Fort Point Museum

So what’s at the Fort Point Museum in Lahave you might ask? This was the place Sry Ruus held the book launch for her new novel, Lovesongs Of Emmanuel Taggart. (Breakwater Books)

We didn’t arrive on time. I knew we wouldn’t.  I had made a previous commitment to be someplace else not knowing at the time that the launch was scheduled for that day, so we missed Syr’s reading. We were a bit disappointed but I suppose in some ways we were lucky to be there at all. We left home that afternoon with just a vague idea of where we were headed. Instead of going a route that was familiar to us my husband decided it would be a good time to go the back way and we ended up on the wrong side of the Lahave River with no idea where The Fort Point Museum was. When my husband saw the Lahave Ferry docked he decided this was a good time to stop and ask directions. That was when we learned that the museum was just across the river. Talk about luck! We could actually see the museum from where we were and luckily the ferry was about to take off. It’s just a five minute trip across so we’d knew we’d make it in time.

I hadn’t met Syr before even though she and I both had work in the same Christmas anthology last year and both attended the launch. (That was a busy day with about thirteen of us and nearly impossible to meet all the authors there.) So, we’d never actually met. Still, I wanted to attend her launch because I was excited for her and being a writer myself I feel it’s important to support our local talent.

Syr and her daughter put together a lovely lunch and the cake was decorated exactly like the cover of her book. It was beautiful. Of course they couldn’t cut on it. But they had another one there for that purpose. I had a chat with Syr and she signed my book. She seems like such a very nice lady. I wish her all the best with her novel.

A First Review

A quick stop into the local book store this evening was quite an emotional thing for me. I had heard from a friend that my book was mentioned in Atlantic Books Today— a free publication which reviews some of the books published in Atlantic Canada. She mentioned that there was a review there but I figured since the book isn’t out yet that it was just a blurb about it— but she was right. There it was, someone writing about my book, someone who had already read it. You see there’s this thing called advanced reading copies that get sent out to various sales reps and reviewers before the book even comes out. (I really have a lot to learn about all this.) This good news is the review was a good one!!! I was on cloud nine. Sure is great to have someone say something nice about something you’ve written, I mean someone who doesn’t know you. (If you know what I mean.)

My husband and I stood in the bookstore both reading the review, wondering if we should snap up all the free copies for family members. But I guess that would kind of defeat the purpose of having it out there in the first place if I took all the copies home… I did take two, however…the ones we were reading. Atlantic Books Today even mentions that the launch is at the East Dalhousie Community Centre on Oct 25th , which seemed really neat, too. It almost feels as though this book is not just mine but the community’s as well.

I am constantly amazed at this whole process. All I can say is Wow!!

Word on the Street

I found out today that I will be reading an excerpt from “Bitter, Sweet” at the Word on the Street in Halifax on September 27th. I don’t mind admitting that it sort of threw me for a loop when I received the email. Sure, I had blindly replied “yes” when asked if I wanted to “participate” in the festival, naively thinking that I’d be there to promote my book, perhaps nod and smile at passersby— after all my book’s not out yet. What the heck am I going to read from? I guess I should have figured out that “participate” actually meant read but I’m not always so good at reading between the lines.

Of course my mind ran like wild fire for about a half hour after reading the email. I even phoned my sister to ask if there was possibly something wrong with me for not knowing exactly what was expected of me. There must have been something I missed in the email. “You will be reading at 1:30 at the kids and young adult stage.” Good news! According to my sister, the email was in fact vague. Nothing wrong with me—at least according to her. Perhaps a mistake had been made, I thought. She checked the schedule on line. Sure enough there I was,  Laura Best/ “Bitter, Sweet”

So I quickly emailed another author whose book is also coming out this fall with Nimbus to see if she is reading and guess what? She’s also reading from her yet to be published book.  Luckily, she was able to put things into perspective for me. She’s as much in the dark about this as I am but figures that we will be told later what to expect. I immediately felt as though I had found a kindred spirit, even began to dream that  there were others just like us out there somewhere—dazed and confused and wishing for a little more clarity. We first time authors are understandably naive. Didn’t help that neither of us had even attended the festival before.

I’ve read my work on several occasions in public but I like to have plenty of preparation. I want to know exactly how each word needs to be said, when and where to put emphasis. A lot of people assume that when you’re standing in front of a crowd that you’re nervous because you feel self-conscious about your looks or how you’re dressed. That’s never been my issue. For me it’s being able to read smoothly and clearly, to read in a way that will interest others, to make eye contact with the audience and not lose my place. I find it a bit nerve-wracking if I’m being honest. I suppose most people do. But this is all part of the territory.

A few years ago my husband and I went to Lunenburg to a Margaret Atwood reading when “The Tent” first came out.. On the way home he said, “That will be you some day reading in front of a crowd.” I really appreciated his support but didn’t dream that “some day” would come so quickly. Wish me luck on the 27th and hopefully by the time I get to the festival I’ll know exactly what I’m doing.

Having patience

I think I’m safe in saying that the publishing industry is the slowest moving business there is. If there’s anything out there that moves any slower please let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

SO, how slow is the publishing business, you might ask?

A year ago I sent out a synopsis and sample chapters to a publisher I’d dealt with in the past. I don’t like to appear impatient so I’m usually content to wait for word to come.—would they like to read the whole manuscript or do they want to pass. My patience really doesn’t grow thin because I’ve been through this so many times that I know it doesn’t help to impatient. But now that all the work is done on my novel I can concentrate on some of my other submissions. A year seems extremely long for a synopsis to be gone  although I believe I did wait eight months to receive word that Nimbus wanted to read the entire manuscript for “Bitter, Sweet.”

Today I decided that I’ve waited long enough. I sent a quick email off to the editor asking if my submission is still under consideration and I also asked how they would feel if I sent out queries to a few other publishing houses since I hadn’t mentioned in my initial query that it was a multiple submission. Now of course I know I’m free to send queries off to other publishing houses (it is my work after all) but I figured it couldn’t hurt them knowing this. Perhaps that way they’ll let me know one way or the other— sooner rather than later.

I promptly received an apology from the editor telling me that he’d look into it and that I was free to send it to other publishing houses because it was their fault for taking so long. So a day off work today has proven to be very productive for me. I’m going to do up a proposal for a few other publishing houses sometime this week. At least now I’m moving forward again!

Moving right along……

The layout file for Bitter, Sweet arrived earlier this week with a request that I have a list of any errors or changes I want in the text back to them by Friday. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal— we’re not talking about a full length novel here–but since I work during the day I’ve been a bit pressed for time.

For anyone who hasn’t seen one before, a layout file is basically a pdf file of the book pages, the way they will appear in the book, complete with dedication, acknowledgments, and a whole page of other necessary things like photo credit, the copyright, book cover designer, those sorts of things. Since the printing on the layout file is so large I found it much easier to read and to find little errors that didn’t get picked up before.

Our brains are a curious thing for we tend to see what we think is there instead of what is actually there. Proofreading my novel several times made this all too clear. Of course this was the first time I actually read it word for word, out loud, to make sure everything was in its place. Hope we (my editor will be giving it a final look through as well) didn’t miss anything but I can list a good many books where I found mistakes and I must say I was pretty forgiving. Hopefully if we’ve missed something my readers will also be forgiving.

Also today, the final cover (front and back) came for my approval. Sure looked strange seeing my face on the back cover. I really like the synopsis they put together, I feel as though it really captures the essence of the book

Guess it’s all coming together now. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream.

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