Emergency Book Signing–Sometimes You Have to Go That Extra Mile or Thirty

Yes, I did say emergency book signing! Sounds strange, I know, but life is filled with strange and unusually things. Some days even the smallest thing can miraculously turn into an emergency especially when there’s a book involved.

Sometimes the really cool things about being an author are the strange things that can happen on an ordinary day. Monday was such a day, ordinary and plain as white bread, not even toasted and buttered. But then I checked the messages on my phone when I got home from work. There was one from the local bookstore. (Bear in mind when I say “local” I mean it’s still about a 45 minute drive from where I am.) The owner said the most bazaar thing had just happened. A customer came in and bought the last copy of “Flying With a Broken Wing,” and the very next customer in line wanted that same book. She was calling to ask if I had books on hand and if it was possible to make some arrangements to get them. Apparently, the customer was quite disappointed to learn that the last copy ( a signed on at that) had just sold as she’d wanted it to take it to her daughter in Ontario— her daughter, as it turns out, was someone I had gone to school with. Now, there’s a bit more to this as it just so happens that this very same lady taught one of my daughters, actually shared a birthday with her, and always gave my daughter a birthday card all the while she was in elementary school. Nice, huh? I always thought so.

So here was the dilemma, the lady would really like signed copies of both my books but was leaving for Ontario in a few days. This meant the books wouldn’t arrive from the publisher, certainly not in time for me to come out and sign them, before she left. The bookstore owner suggested that I mail out the copies. I explained that I was 20 minutes from a post office and I work through the day. I chewed the situation over the next day at work and decided I’d take a drive out. The bookstore owner was going to buy my copies and keep the ones she had on order for her store. So that’s what I did. I made a quick trip out and delivered the books inscribed with a little message.

Now I know some people might think that it was silly of me to go out of my way to make sure this person got signed copies. She would have taken the books anyway (her husband was going to meet her in Ontario a few days later and the copies would be in from the publisher by that time), but sometimes you’ve just got to do what feels right and this felt like the right thing.

Have you ever noticed that Karma has a way of coming back, sometimes years later, and often in a good way? Many times, it’s those little things that make up for the disappointments we feel along the way. Having people specifically ask for my book, and to have it signed, is really an amazing thing. In the grand scheme of things, I believe all those little things add up to a great deal, at least in this author’s life!

Has anything small made your day recently? I love it when you share your stories.

Where the Healing Begins

I was going to write a post about the tragic circumstances that recently took place in Moncton when three RCMP officers lost their lives in the line of duty, but I don’t think I want this post to go that way. Instead, I want to write about the outpouring of support and love that followed this tragic event. Too often we focus on the event, something that we are helpless to do anything about. While it is important to report the facts, to allow time for grieving, it’s also important to allow the healing process to start.

Last weekend while we were in Moncton, a few missed turns put right down Mainstreet and the Codiac Detachment of the RCMP. I snapped a quick photo as a reminder of how communities pull together during times of grief and sorrow. It is during these times that we realize just how far those community ties reach.
Moncton

 

Signs were up all over the city, showing their support for the women and men who keep us safe.

moncton2

I thought this quote from the assistant commissioner of New Brunswick, Roger Brown said it quite well.

“Walking in front of the detachment and seeing it transformed into a community memorial to our three fallen members left me overwhelmed. While it’s usually our job to look after the community, this time the community looked after us.”

While none of these things will bring back the three officers it is a starting place for the healing process. In time all wounds heal, we hear that again and again, but where wounds heal a scab takes its place and eventually a scar forms— a constant reminder of the past and what has been lost. Some wounds can never truly go away, but still we move on.

Moncton, our thoughts and prayers continue.

Butterflies

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  Hans Christian Anderson I just wanted to share these butterflies on my blog today. A lovely card from a lovely, talented friend who always seems to know the exact words I need to hear. butterflies Enjoy your weekend! And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

10 Things You Should Never Say to an Author

I’ve been an author for more years that I have admitted to. For a long time no one knew my secret. I was published and still no one knew. Did I say no one? I mean very few. I didn’t mind that. Knowing my work was published was enough for this gal. Life was good; simple and good.

But then the book.

You know the one— Bitter, Sweet. My secret was finally out. There was no going back.
Now, with two novels under my belt I’ve gained a little wisdom. Not only have I spoken to a lot of other authors, but I’ve made a few observations along the way. People often say some far out there things to authors without even being aware of it. Sometimes things come out of their mouths before they can stop themselves. One thing I’ve discovered along the way is there are things that are best not said to an author whether you’re meeting an author for the first time or if they happen to be in your circle of friends. Etiquette, my peeps. Sometimes we all need to show a little etiquette. That said, I wanted to have a little fun with this. A good sense of humour goes a long ways, not only in the publishing business, but with life in general.

So, for fun, I’ve listed some actual things that have been said to authors I’ve met in my journey, a sharing of stories if you will. And since words never come out sounding quite the way they were intended— I know that. You know that. Even the neighbour’s cat knows that—- I’ve also listed what you probably meant to say. We authors are an understanding bunch, always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you’re nervous when meeting an author and that clever first line you took a whole five seconds coming up with doesn’t come out sounding so clever. So here goes.

1. I thought you’d be taller. No kidding. I thought I’d be taller, too. But hey, my mum and dad were short, and you know what they say— genetics can be a bitch. Ooops. Did I just say that? Here’s the scoop. It’s difficult to determine how tall someone is by looking at their author photo. In fact, it’s down right impossible unless you’ve got a crystal ball.
What you probably meant to say was:
I’m so glad to meet you. Your books are wonderful!
2. I have to say I liked your other book better. Have to say? You really have to say that? Okay, so authors are keen at reading between the lines. I mean, lines are our specialty. So what you’re really telling me is, what, you didn’t like the book? Not only that, you felt I needed to know this for some reason? But of course you didn’t mean that at all, did you?. We authors can jump to all sorts of conclusions. Our egos are fragile. We often think the worse, and you would never, ever want to shatter an author’s oh- so- fragile-ego. Of course not!
What you probably meant to say was:
I have to say your first/second/third/fourth book was my favourite!
3. Can I get your book from the bookmobile? In author language this translates into I’m too cheap to buy your book.
What you probably meant to say was: I sure hope your book will be available at the libraries and bookmobiles, too! You’ll pick up a lot of readers that way.
4. Can you sign this copy for me? I just got it at a yard sale. It was a real steal for a buck. There’s nothing wrong with getting a deal on a book. I do that myself whenever possible. Not sure I’d announce to the author at a book signing that I just bought his book for a dollar. Sometimes you just have to keep those sweet deals to yourself.
What you probably meant to say was: I’d love to have this book autographed.
5. I just entered a giveaway for your book, but if I win I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. Really? You’re worried that if you actually won a free, probably autographed book, you don’t know anyone you could give it too? I assume that’s because you already have your own copy, right? But really, no one person on planet earth would want my book. Not a friend or family member, your doctor’s secretary, the mailman, some bum on the street?
What you probably meant to say was: Even though I have my own copy, I wanted to show my support so I entered the giveaway. I know someone who would love a signed copy!
6. I tried to think of someone I could buy a copy of your book for, but I didn’t know anyone who would want it, and I was too mean to spend the money on myself. Yeah, kind of sad. You don’t think you’re worth 12 bucks, the price of my book. That really makes me sad.
What you probably meant to say was: My friends and family all have a copy of your book!
7. How many copies has your book sold? Authors don’t like talking about book sales unless they have bragging rights that would knock your socks off a chimpanzee and, believe me, most of us don’t. Everyone wants to believe that you’re making millions on that book because we all know that authors are all filthy rich. Right? Wrong.
What you probably meant to say was: I hope your book sells a million copies!
8. Ive written a novel. Can you take a look at it? Sorry, but darn near everyone has written a novel at one time or other. If we authors read them all, well…what do you think?
What you probably meant to say was: It’s wonderful to meet a fellow writer.
9. No one wants the novel I’ve written. I’m just not famous enough. Why don’t you rewrite the story? You can have all the royalties. I’d just like to see it published. I can’t speak for all authors, but usually we like to come up with our own ideas. It can be a sticky situations with copyright laws, etc. Not to mention the story that you’re passionate about might not hold that same appeal for someone else.
What you probably meant to say was: I’m in awe of someone who can get their novel published. Good for you!
10. They say everyone has one story in them. Yes, that’s what they do say, and that might very well be true. But you’ve got to ask yourself is it a story anyone else would want to read? Be honest. If it’s an epic tale about your first trip to the farmer’s market or the summer you learned to knit, you probably won’t have a very big readership for that one story of yours.
What you probably meant to say was: Congratulations. Getting published is no easy feat. May all good things come your way.

So there you have it. Ten things not to say to an author, and just in case you find yourself ready to make a faux pas you now know what to say in its place. I hope you had fun reading along.

Have you ever said something to an author you hadn’t intended to? If you’re an author has someone ever said something to you that could have been misunderstood? Perhaps you can think of something you should never say to an author. Please share if you do!

Some Days I Just Want to Quit

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to abandon the page for more than a day, a week, or a month, or a year. I want to know if the longing to produce words would consume me or if I’d move onward without ever looking back. Would I choose a different way of expressing myself or would the need to express myself dissolve into the Universe never to be thought of again. Would anyone look back one day and say, “Hmm, Laura Best,  she used to be a writer, didn’t she? I wonder whatever happened to her?” Would it matter if they didn’t?

Some days I want to just quit and spend my time not thinking of that next sentence or the story that’s waiting to be written— perhaps the story that will never be written— because I’ve run out of time.

Some days I want to know what it feels like to not think about my books and whether or not anyone is reading or even caring about my work because in all honesty I know most of them don’t.

Some days I want to go in a totally different direction and forget the fact that I’m a writer. I want to play with my grandchildren, see the world through their eyes with only acceptance and love. I want to feel that love, be that love, unconditionally.

Some days I don’t want to face the fact that my writing is mediocre and not even second, or third, or fourth best. I want to throw away the numbers and simply see my writing as a gift, something to be shared with no strings attached to anyone. Sales figures won’t matter.

Some days I want to know what it would feel like to wake without that first thought being a new character, a new plot line, a new word that titillates the tongue when spoken. I want to drift off into dreamland without a story churning in my mind and just sleep. I wouldn’t be faced with the burden of getting the story right and the knowledge that no one else could tell my story. If someone else could take that same story, and mold it in their hands, would anyone even notice the difference? Of course they wouldn’t.

Some days I just want to quit, sit on that pity pot and show the world that I’m ready to give up. But the Universe doesn’t feel pity. I’ve known that since I was a child, and ended up picking myself up again and again because I finally realized that no one else would do it for me.

Some days I don’t want to be a writer at all. I just want to quit. Who cares? What difference does it make?

The answer to that is simple. It wouldn’t make any difference if I quit writing. The world would continue to spin. People would live and die. Day and night would come and go. Because you can’t miss what you’ve never known and there would be no one to grieve those unwritten stories. BUT ME.

Some days I just want to quit writing. But something won’t let me.

I won’t let me.

Tomorrow I will write. Again.

 

I’m Keeping it to Myself

Pray for me people, quite possibly I’ve angered the Facebook Gods. I know, I know, this is serious business. I mean Facebook, right?

Secret messages have been turning up in my inbox— friends who have updated their status, uploaded photos, invited me to “like” pages. It’s a conspiracy of sorts, a cleverly devised plan to lure me back. I’ve been ignoring them all, closing my eyes and shutting it all out. Delete…delete…delete… I’ve been sending these Facebook messages into oblivion.

These days, I’m taking a bit of a Facation— a little break from Facebook if you will— because I sometimes find it a bit intruding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (kind of) and keeping up with my family and friends, but it’s far too easy to pop on for what you think will be a few minutes but ends up being much more. When that nosy factor kicks in I sometimes can’t help myself!

I was going to mention in a status update my intention to take a bit of a break but kept putting it off. I thought I’d let others know that I’d probably still update my author page but  they shouldn’t use Facebook as a way to contact me if something needed a timely reply. I thought it would be the polite thing to do, but I didn’t get around to it and so I didn’t start my intended break. Hey, I can procrastinate with the best of them!  But sometimes procrastination gives us time to reflect, a time to rethink our intentions. And low and behold, a few days ago someone’s status update had to do with this very same subject. Cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not.

To paraphrase the status it was something along this line: If you’re going to take a break from Facebook just do it. Don’t bother announcing it because no one really cares.

Oops! For a second I thought they had read my mind! But no, it was just my social media insecurities getting the best of me. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention my intended break. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if people really do feel this way or if this was just one person’s opinion. I have often read status updates, especially from other authors, letting us know they were taking a break but I didn’t find it upsetting in the least. I actually thought it was a smart idea, not only the break but letting others know.

One of my beefs about Facebook lately, has been the sponsored ads that keep coming up into my news feed from people and companies I’ve never heard of.  Also the fact that some people really show a lack of caring. I don’t particularly like to read negative status updates. But they’re there. Disgruntled people with gripes galore. While I do understand that people are sometimes frustrated by life, and the behaviour of others, I don’t feel as though Facebook is the right forum to discuss that frustration. However, it’s their prerogative. Luckily, I have no one on my friends list who are downright belligerent. I might be forced to eliminate them from my list if that were the case. And no one likes to be eliminated. Anyway, I’m planning to make myself scarce from FB for the next little while, not being dramatic or anything, but I’d really like to spend more time blogging. Oh yeah, and writing. I am a writer, right? Two books and about forty + short stories says I am so who am I to argue? At least not today. Maybe I’ll keep that argument for another day!

Do you take breaks from social media from time to time? Do you agree with my FB friend that you should keep your intended break to yourself and simply disappear? Do you think it’s a matter of courtesy to let your friends and followers know that you’re not simply ignoring them?

Who Says You Can’t Go Back?

These past few months I’ve gone back to submitting some of my short stories for publication. Maybe to some it seems like a step back, but I’m content with the  short stories I write. I really am. Becoming distracted by novel writing these past five years or so, I allowed several finished and unfinished stories to fall to the wayside. I wish now I hadn’t. Last winter I submitted a short piece to Understory Magazine and it was published in their Winter Issue. The story was titled “The Old Queen Rains.” For those of you who might not have already read it I’ve added the link. HERE. I can’t deny it’s a wonderful feeling to have someone say they want to publish something I’ve written. These acceptances are so few and far between when writing novels. I’m a SLOOOW writer. But slow and steady as they say…..

I just received word on the weekend that another short story I’d submitted to TRANSITION , a magazine published by the Saskatchewan Mental Health Society , has been accepted. I’ve had work published there in the past. If you click into the “Publications” tab,  at the top of the page, and scroll down you’ll find some of these issues online. The link won’t take you directly to my story but, rather, the issue of the magazine. You’ll need to scroll through the magazine to find mine. I know, it’s a lot of work!

It seemed a shame to know that I had competed stories just sitting there in files on my computer. A story that sits idle will never find a home. I’m happy to know this particular story will be published. It deals with the issue of euthanasia, a very controversial topic. I like controversy in writing, it’s so, I don’t know, controversial. I enjoy writing stories that make people stop and think or perhaps show them a different viewpoint. Having an open mind, considering something you’ve never stopped to consider, is never a bad thing in my opinion.

So, yeah, I’m going back to submitting short stories. It doesn’t mean I won’t continue to work on novels, because I will. I’m keeping an open mind. The writing will find me one way or another. I don’t pick the story I want to write, but rather, the story picks me.

So here’s to going back, to keeping an open mind, not setting a straight path, but following a path that sometimes meanders a little bit. Sometimes the best things happen when we least expect them, and often when we don’t have anything particular in mind.

 

 

The Reader Behind That Review You Hated

My last post was about the author behind the book you hated, but in order to make this issue a bit balanced, I decided to write a post about the reviewer. When a bad review comes along, authors probably don’t stop to think about the person who actually took the time to put that review out there and what their purpose was in writing a bad review.

Right now, I’ll tell you that I don’t rate or review books and I’m sure some of you may think I have no business writing a post about the reviewer. Luckily, this is my blog so what I say goes!

Sometimes, I’m completely confused about some of the reviews I’ve read online, especially those reviews for some of the books I absolutely loved. Is that the same book I read? Nope…couldn’t possible be. But it is!  People see things in totally different ways. Just as all writers bring something different to the page so do all readers.

A friend of mine told me she had a difficult time with my last book because she grew up in a home where alcohol was a really big issue and, like the protagonist, Cammie, she didn’t know who her father was. I totally understood why she might find, “Flying with a Broken Wing” a difficult read. Cammie’s aunt Millie is a bootlegger, after all, but I never would have thought of this book as being “difficult” for anyone to read. Many people have found it funny, in fact.  Still, her comment opened my eyes a little bit to the experience that each reader brings to a book. There could be many reasons why someone disliked a book or even wrote a bad review that might not have a thing to do with the story or the writing itself. Perhaps there was something in the book that reminded them of a bad experience they had or one of the characters reminded them of someone who made their lives miserable and they just couldn’t get past that.

We can’t know what all makes up that reader’s life experience, who they are and where they’ve been. Did they grow up in a loving household? Maybe they’re unwell or feeling unloved or lonely. There are so many factors that could go into this. Perhaps the only way they have of expressing their negative feelings is to lash out in words. Perhaps again, they feel an obligation to warn other readers that they’re about to waste their valuable time reading that 500 page book that they determined was gibberish.

One thing I have come to understand about this world I live in and my experience in it, my opinion, and my expression of that opinion, is only important to me (and perhaps the sacred few who value what that opinion might be.) I have lived long enough to know that, while opinions are sometimes important, many times they really are not. What I like or what I don’t like makes absolutely no difference in the big scheme of things. We won’t all like the same book, any more than we’ll all like the same clothes or food or cars or people. Thank goodness!

I’m all for responsible reviews where a reviewer is able to give their opinion about a book, maybe even point out some obvious flaws if they feel so inclined, hopefully in a constructive way. It’s important. Diversity makes this world a better place to live.

Any writer will agree that expressing yourself through words is important. We were born to communicate, but communicating in a responsible way only makes you look classy and maybe earns you some respect along the way if you care about those things. Truthfully, those things aren’t important to everyone. I know that.

I love what author Sue Harrison had to say about my last post. If a novel is too horrible, I simply don’t review it. Why break somebody’s heart because of my (perhaps erroneous) opinion!?!”   Smart lady!

Have you ever given consideration to the reader behind the review? Has your own life experiences ever influenced your reading experience when it came to a certain book? Have you ever wondered about the reader behind that bad review?

The Author Behind That Book You Hate

As young reader I can’t recall ever reading a book and thinking it was horrible. I was much more accepting, much more willing to read a book with open eyes, not critically looking and examining what I believed to be faults in the story or the writing. I just read for the love of reading. I accepted the story for what it was. But then, that’s the beauty of youth, the way we keep our minds and hearts open, and simply allow stories to entertain us without judgment or malice. Weren’t we just the cutest things back then?

Today, it doesn’t seem to be that way. People are reading and reviewing and rating (they have every right to of course) but a part of me can’t help but wonder what happened to plain old reading for enjoyment. Why does everything have to be rated and what it the purpose behind these ratings? Some argue that it helps them decide if they want to read a book, but with so many varying opinions how could you possibly decide if a book is beautifully written or not and worth your time? If twenty people rave on about a book, there are bound to be some who absolutely hate it. Guaranteed.

Having your work out there to be scrutinized by others isn’t the easiest thing in the world, people. Ask any author. But it’s part of the territory, like it or lump it. We write the best story we can and, God willing, we might be able to share it with others. But there’s always going to be someone who won’t care about the work you put into it or what it means to the author to be able to express themselves with the written word. I’m not sure there is any other craft out there that comes under fire the way writing does. People can get nasty. I’ve seen it, myself, in the reviews of some of my favourite books and I wonder what would cause another person to write such nastiness. I’m all for honest reviews. If someone didn’t like a book they didn’t like it.

Behind every book, good or bad, there is a person. Someone who put their heart and soul into the story they want to tell. Hopefully, people will one day read it. And when/if they do, they’ll form opinions. They’ll either like it or they won’t. One thing I know for sure is, we won’t like every book we read, no more than everyone will like the book we write. It’s a fact of life. But being an author, I try to be as objective as I can and while I won’t like every book I read, I certainly respect the writer for creating it. Many, many hours goes into the writing of a book. We write and then we rewrite. Then rewrite some more. It’s a craft worthy of respect.

Honestly, I never used to think about the author behind the book until I became an author myself. I never wondered who they were or what kind of life they had. I only ever thought of them as an author, as if writing was their entire life. Of course, today, an author bio is on the back of books and we can get a small glimpse of who that person behind the book is. But that doesn’t tell a complete story. No bio I’ve read has ever told me that an author is trustworthy, honest or loyal. Or that they’re warm or caring and have a heart as big as the outdoors. I’ve not read a bio that told me how the author worked at perfecting his/her craft, working through the pain of rejection to produce something they truly believe in. Nor would you read in an author bio that someone’s nasty review was so hurtful that the author never wrote that second or third book because they stopped after number one. Nope, you won’t find any of those things in a bio. Although I’m not sure many people would even be interested in any of that and I’m sorry for sounding a little bit cynical at the moment

So while I don’t expect you all to love every book you read maybe you might stop for a moment and consider the author behind that book you either loved or hated.

 

Have you ever given any thought to the author behind the book you loved or  hate? Do you consider the idea that the reviews you write might be read by the author? Would you care?

Guess Who’s Back?

Oh wow! Am I ever glad to be back— proper theme and all. Comet…Darn it. I should have remembered. I mean, one of Santa’s reindeer and all. Thank you, Linda Cassidy Lewis, you’re a genius.  If you were here I’d throw my arms around you and squeeze tight whether you wanted me to or not.  ;)  For the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of my last theme, but you had the answer. Okay, so I’m just a little bit giddy at the moment.  Sometimes the Universe does provide the answer. I can now take my “frig” away. I’m happy.  :)

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