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With a new month comes new opportunities for me. I recently attended a book fair and met a Hastings representative. After a short visit, he told me he wants to put my books into some of his regional stores. You better believe I got copies to him ASAP. He told me it could take up to six weeks to get things in place, so I’m hoping by the end of this month to have good news.

I’m also waiting on news for a two-novel book deal. This has been ongoing for a long time. Hopefully this month will bring a positive answer.

Then, later this summer (not exactly in May), one of my books will be shown in the BookExpo in NYC. I’ve never entered anything there before, and am interested to see how it turns out.

My website has just been revamped to sell my books from there. Getting secure shopping carts hooked up is quite an endeavor. But, it’s done now, and I love the results. If you have a second, take a look.

I also just released my third novel, “Black Wolf at Rosebud”. So far, sales have been good. I truly hope the website and Amazon bring in more.

Then, there’s a novel I’m trying to finalize, but I’ve been stuck for a good long while. I’m looking for someone who can help me get it straightened out, and think perhaps I’ve found that person. I just have to ask them.

So, how are the rest of you doing?

Belle

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You just think the hard part is over. Your book is finished, after toil and trouble and a ton of aspirin. At last, you can kick back and relax. Not so fast! You still have to sell your product. Most authors hate this part of the process – mainly because we don’t know what we’re doing. Paying truckloads of money to a publicist isn’t feasible for us starving artist types. So, whaddya do?

Don’t panic. Below are listed examples of items to include in your very own press kit. Yeah, I said it. Press Kit. Get use to it. You’re gonna become very friendly with it. At the very end of this is a bit about how to mail press kits. There are some great and FREE tricks you should know about. Who gets these kits? Anyone you want to consider reviewing your book, interviewing you or stocking your book in their store. You find these people by digging around in your area – book stores, libraries, newspaper editors (for the ‘culture’ or ‘living’ section), book fairs, writing clubs… They’re out there. You’ll find them. The first example is a Cover Letter (#1) offering to send your press kit to interested parties.What goes into a press kit?

  • Cover Letter #2
  • Press Release
  • Q&A
  • Sell Sheet
  • Bio/photo (included with your press release)
  • Professional reviews
  • Your baby – the book.

  • Cover Letter #1


    Note: You can send just the press release with this letter, or the entire press kit without the book, offering to mail that if they express interest.

    [Name]
    [Company]
    [City],

    [State]

    [Zip][Date]

    Dear [First Name],

    Hello! I’m happy to announce the release of Texas (or local, or award-winning) author, Magnolia Belle’s, new romance novel, Black Wolf: Lakota Man.Black Wolf explores the challenges of two people trying to create a solid relationship when all they have known of love is shaky and shallow. The love story portrayed in Black Wolf is wrought with unexpected passions and meddling interlopers. Two lovers try to stay together, even when others are determined to drive them apart. From family to failed past loves, this couple has to overcome all to capture their opportunity for happiness and fulfillment.

    Enclosed is a press release for your perusal. Please contact me if you would like to receive a press kit and review copy of Black Wolf: Lakota Man or would like to arrange an interview. Thank you for your consideration.

    Best regards,

    Magnolia Belle (or your agent – like your brother-in-law or your mom)
    Phone:
    E-mail:
    Web-site:


    Cover Letter #2


    Caveat: Be aware that some editors/reviewers accept downloads of PDF files and of Word documents, rather than a hard copy of the book. If that’s the case, adjust the cover letter accordingly. You still send them everything enclosed.

    [Name]
    [Company]
    [City],

    [State]

    [Zip][Date]Dear [First Name],As we discussed on the phone Friday, March 23 (or by e-mail last week, or by pigeon carrier last month), you expressed an interest in reviewing (or conducting an interview, or whatever the arrangement is) my latest novel, Black Wolf: Lakota Man. To facilitate your work, enclosed are a press release, a Q&A, a sell sheet, and a copy of the novel.If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for allowing me to send you Black Wolf: Lakota Man. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

    Best regards,

    Magnolia Belle (or your agent – like your brother-in-law or your mom)
    Phone:
    E-mail:
    Web-site:


    The Press Release


    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Name
    Phone number
    E-mail: me@somethingor’nother.com
    Web-site: http://www.blackwolfbooks.com

    Love, Culture and Rock & Roll!

    In her novel, Black Wolf: Lakota Man, author Magnolia Belle weaves a story of two lovers caught in the midst of a cultural battle. As if coming from different cultures wasn’t enough, the lovers also encounter meddlers who continually attempt to drive them apart. Black Wolf: Lakota Man is a romantic novel that shows how love can overwhelm the body and soul, bringing two very different people together.

    Limit it to one page. Keep it in active voice! Keep it interesting! Write like a movie trailer sounds. Such as…This is so fabulous, it will cure warts. Blah. Blah…. Remember – you’re selling it RIGHT HERE to the one person who can help sell it to a whole lot of people.

    About the Author Magnolia Belle graduated in… Her other writings include… She’s won the 2006 Bippity Award for Fastest Typist and the 2004 Award for Nearsighted Authors.

    ISBN: 1-4120-6866-5• 6 x 9 • Trade Paper • 240 pages • $19.95


    The Q&A


    In your Q&A, anticipate questions that an interviewer might ask. Recall questions people have already asked you and answer them. Be sure to include any unique aspects of the book, like the 12 years you spent on the police force before writing crime novels.

    A Conversation with Author Magnolia BelleQ: Give us a brief synopsis of your new book, Black Wolf: Lakota Man

    A: The Black Wolf Band, an Austin, Texas rock band formed by four tall, good-looking, Lakota Sioux brothers, has just signed with a national label. The brothers have the world by the tail. Studio work on their new CD is going well. Their fan base is growing. More and more concerts are selling out. Getting women has never been easier for Caleb Black Wolf, the oldest brother. That is, until he meets fellow musician, Sara Bradford — a woman he wants but who doesn’t want him.

    Q: How did you come to write Black Wolf?A:Q: What inspired you to write of the music industry? (or law, or the stock market)
    A:

    Q: Have you had experiences dealing with conflicting cultures?
    A:

    Q: Were you ever in a band?
    A:

    Q: Are there any sequels in the works?
    A:

    Q: How did you find your publisher and what was the process like, working with them for this book?
    A:

    Q: What problems, if any, did you have to tackle to complete the book?
    A:

    Q: What advice do you have for first-time writers?
    A:

    Q: What else would you like to tell us about your book?
    A:

    Q: What else would you like to tell us about you?
    A:


    The Sell Sheet


    Black Wolf: Lakota Man
    Romance
    Paperback
    Publication Date: October 2005
    Price: $xx.xx
    Size: 6 x 9
    Author: Magnolia Belle
    ISBN: 1-4120-6866-5
    Pages: 240
    Trafford PublishingAvailable from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bowkers, Borders Books, Amazon, Barnes & NobleTo order call 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx

    In her novel Black Wolf: Lakota Man, author Magnolia Belle weaves a story of two lovers caught in the midst of a cultural battle. As if coming from different cultures wasn’t enough, the lovers encounter meddlers who continually attempt to drive them apart. Black Wolf: Lakota Man is a romantic novel that shows how love can overwhelm the body and soul, bringing two very different people together.

    Luckily for all of us, this is the same as the Press Release. Just copy and paste, without the biographical information. This should only be one page as well.


    PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS


    This should be professional reviews you may already have on your work. I know your Aunt Susie loves you, but her review doesn’t count here. Nor does the review from your best friend since third grade. Not all press kits will include this at first. But, as you garner reviews, be sure to add them.

    REVIEWS OF BLACK WOLF: LAKOTA MAN

    Rarely do I wander across the border into the land of romance, but I must say I’ve enjoyed the few romantic novels I’ve read – and that definitely includes Magnolia Belle’s Black Wolf: Lakota Man.

    Lakota Man is the first in a series of books revolving around the rocking Black Wolf brothers. Therefore, when I say…

    Daniel Jolley – Amazon

    The story is crafted with an engaging mix of simplicity, heart and passion. LAKOTA MAN is a love story you’re sure to love!

    Elissa Kyle, Romance Readers Connection

    Magnolia Belle writes in a clean, straight to the point manner which makes for a quick read in BLACK WOLF: LAKOTA MAN. I fell for and encouraged Caleb and Sara on in all of their endeavors. I loved the family ties with the brothers and Sara’s family.

    Round Table Reviews


    About Mailing


    I spent two years in the trenches of Ebay as a seller. During that time, I learned quite a bit about shipping all types of items to all points on the globe. I’d like to share a few things with you that will make your life much easier when it’s time to start mailing out press kits.1. I use the USPS, so all my notes pertain to them. If you prefer UPS or FedEx, you’re on your own.

    2. If your entire press kit, with envelope, is over one pound, order the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes (large). They are FREE. No matter where you send your kit IN THE USA, it will only cost $4.05 (though it’s about to increase soon). Your kit should arrive to your addressee in 3 days in good order. Please note, there are several types of Priority Mail envelopes: regular, flat rate and prepaid. You want the FLAT RATE in this case.

    3. Set up an account with the USPS online at http://www.usps.com. You will need to give them a credit card so they can charge your postage.

    4. If you buy your postage online, you get a free delivery confirmation number, which will tell both you and your addressee the package’s progress. The confirmation number is simply typed (or copied) into the appropriate box on the website and information to the kit’s current location is given.

    5. When you buy your postage online, print out the label on simple white paper. Cut the label (it’s about ½ a sheet of paper) and tape it onto your priority mail envelope. Be sure NOT to cover the bar code on the bottom with tape! The other half gives all the details concerning that package.

    6. If the envelope will fit into your mailbox, simply put it there for next-day pick up. If you have several envelopes, you can schedule a pick up online for the next day, and leave the envelopes in a designated spot (by the carport door, or beside the large flower pot by the driveway)…anywhere it’s easy for the mail carrier to reach them. You don’t have to run to the post office to mail them. Again, this service (and the scheduling) is FREE.

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    It seems no matter how long I expect the publishing process to take, it always takes longer. I have finally ordered my galley for my third and latest novel, “Black Wolf at Rosebud”. What caused the delays this time?
    Unexpected events cropped up in my editor’s life, pushing my work to her back burner once or twice. I completely understand. It just threw the time table off.

    Then, applying for the ISBN hit a snag. It took me three days to realize that I hadn’t ‘finalized’ the application. By then, the weekend arrived, throwing me off even further.

    After that, because I’m on dial up, uploading the PDF mss didn’t work for days. The server kept tossing me off. Grrrr. I sent the mss to work with my husband, who managed to upload it in 30 seconds. (At home it took over two hours! Since then, I’ve set up my FTP software for future use.)

    Then, my illustrator couldn’t upload the book cover because of some specification brouhaha with the publishing company. He had a small meltdown, which led to even more delays until I could figure out the problem.

    Now, several weeks past my expected release date, I think Black Wolf at Rosebud is ready to go on sale. At least, unless the galley has a nasty surprise waiting for me.

    *grin*

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    One of the many benefits of having internet connections is making ‘virtual friends’.  Many times, those friendships outlast those made face-to-face.  Occasionally, one of the virtual friends emerges from cyberspace and crosses over the border into three dimensional earth.

     

    I had just such an occurrence Sunday.  I have known Mr. D for most of 2006.  He is a poet of high caliber, while I am a novelist of questionable caliber.  Yet, through the magic of the net, we have become fast friends, able to tell each other anything…even that the latest work by one of us isn’t so hot. 

    He is moving across country for a new job, and our house is at a halfway point.  My husband and I had a delightful evening with him here.  There was no awkwardness, no hesitancy.  It felt like one of my younger brothers had stopped by for a visit.  We simply picked up the conversation where we left off. 

    I would never have met him if it hadn’t been for our mutual love of the written word in all its forms. 

     

    Writing is often a solitary endeavor.  The door is shut to keep the real world on the other side while, on this side, we struggle to create imaginary worlds on our computer screen.  However, sometimes writing strengthens us when we share our struggles and ideas on the World Wide Web.  It can connect us to a much larger group of people than we’ve ever experienced before.  What an awesome resource!

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    The caravan progressed slowly along the winding trail, the horses’ hooves thudding dully on the thick carpet of gold and yellow leaves. Lord Hampton, along with his youngest son, Richard, led the procession, each on their mount. Within a closed litter, Lord Hampton’s daughter, Gwendolyn, rode with two of her maids. Several in the lord’s personal army traveled beside and behind them to keep thieves and trouble at bay. The fall air sat in dank clumps of mist along the path through the forest. It chilled the travelers as they began their journey of several days to Lord Dewar’s castle. There, his son, Harold, would wed Lady Gwendolyn. The fathers would each be strengthened in their political dominion, and the House of Dewar would be enriched by Lady Gwendolyn’s generous dowry. Magicians, troubadours, and sellers of saints’ bones already assembled for the feasting and revelry a few days’ hence.

    In the litter, Gwendolyn mentally went over her preparations. Just before leaving, as the dowry coffer passed through the great hall, she stopped its bearers and unlocked it. Searching quickly, she pulled the Hampton ring from among the jewels, closed the lid, and sent the chest on its way. When she returned to her room, she had one of her maids tie the ring on a ribbon, and then placed it around her neck, where the family heirloom lay hidden beneath her bodice. Now, as the wheels bounced unevenly, sending the litter’s occupants jostling from side to side, Gwendolyn clutched at the ring as she wondered about her future. She had only seen Harold Dewar twice in her life — once at the age of seven and again at thirteen. Finally, at the prime age of sixteen, she dutifully served her father’s house and agreed to the marriage.

    A scream jerked her out of her reverie. Another scream of pain sounded close by. Yells and curses washed over her in a tidal wave of noise. Quickly parting the curtains, she dared to look. Arrows whistled through the air, puncturing men and animals alike. Ill-clad ruffians leapt from behind the bracken, brandishing arms and giving offense. Lord Hampton fell, mortally wounded. She understood instantly. Her father and younger brother were dead. Now only her oldest brother, Phillip, and she carried the Hampton line. Phillip, still at home, must be warned! In a blur, Gwendolyn ducked back in and unclasped the brooch that held her rich red cloak around her shoulders.

    “Here! Trade me!” she ordered her maid. “But, my lady…”

    “There’s no time to explain.” Gwendolyn thrust the garment at the frightened woman and grabbed the thin gray one in exchange. Taking the gold filigree crown from her own head, she placed it on her maid. Once the red cloak had been secured on her servant, Gwendolyn whispered, “God willing, I will see you again this day.” Before any other words were exchanged, she leapt out of the far side of the litter and ducked, crouching and unseen, into the welcomed invisibility of thick undergrowth. The sounds of the battle followed her as she ran, taking cover as she found it.

    Swwiiisshh. Thud. A stray arrow embedded itself in her side, beside her left breast. Without time to moan, Lady Gwendolyn fell to the forest floor, unconscious, bleeding, and alone.

    * * *

    Remnants of the day’s light barely brightened the far western horizon when Lady Gwendolyn came to. At first bewildered, the pain in her side brought the horror of the day rushing back. With grim determination, she stood, swaying, and took a tentative step. Encouraged at not fainting in spite of the blinding pain, she ventured another. In this method, she finally reached the sight of the attack. No one of her party remained alive, not father, brother, soldiers, or horses. The litter was nowhere to be seen. “They’ve taken the dowry, then,” she muttered weakly as she held her side. The shaft stuck at an obtrusive angle, angering her. Reaching down, she retrieved a soldier’s large knife, then placed the arrow against a rowan, hacking at the arrow until it broke in half.

    The searing pain brought her to her knees, trembling and crying. After a few moments, the spasm abated, enabling her to stand. By now, darkness enveloped her under the forest canopy. Weariness invaded her bones and muscles; the desperate craving to lie down and sleep overwhelmed her. But, sleeping among the dead proved too macabre. At least let me walk a short distance towards home before I sleep, she encouraged herself. Gwendolyn had taken no more than ten haltering steps when a noise stopped her. Peering over her right shoulder, she listened as the noise drew steadily closer. Instead of bringing fear, it lit her face with relief. Within a few minutes, a dappled gray steed walked out of the brush and stood before her, no doubt wondering what to do next. The gray wore the livery of her house, to her continued delight. She grasped at the stirrup and managed, through much travail, to mount the beast. With a click of her tongue, she turned its head for home.

    * * *

    Geoff sat with his feet toward the early morning hearth fire, a bowl of gruel in his hands. He had waited for today all of his eighteen years. Today, he was to become one of the House of Hampton’s guards. His new tunic of green lay on the bed while his wife Mary flitted around the small cottage, her nerves getting the best of her. “You won’t forget anything,” she asked for the third time.

    “I promise, woman. I won’t.” Geoff sighed and finished his breakfast. Dressing quickly, he fastened his sword’s sheath to his belt and reached for his hat. “I’m proud of you, husband,” Mary said, wrapping her arms around his waist.

    Geoff smiled into her lovely brown eyes and kissed her once. “Don’t make me late my first day.” “I won’t. But, I’ll worry about you while you’re gone.”

    “Worry? There’s nothing to worry about. The Houses of Hampton and Dewar will soon be united, and we will be stronger than ever.” “I know. Still…” her voice trailed off as her wifely mind envisioned all manner of calamities.

    “Quit worrying! I’ve promised you my life. You know that.” “Yes, but you’ve promised this House your death.” Mary shook her head and then patted him on his chest. “Off with you now, or you’ll be late for sure.” “I probably won’t be home for a week or so,” he reminded her.

    “I know. So make this next kiss one that will last.” Her seductive smile made his task easy.

    * * *

    Geoff spent the day being shown around, even though he knew the castle grounds and the keep well enough already. That night, after a supper of bread, venison and cheese, Geoff helped lock the gate, and listened as the inhabitants settled in for the night. Curling up on the keep floor as near to the fire as possible, Geoff wrapped himself in his cloak, his thoughts turning toward home as he drifted to sleep.

    “Open the gate!” A cry sounded in the night, hours later. Geoff’s captain walked by, nudging him in his side. “See to it,” he ordered.

    Yawning, Geoff, threw his cloak around his shoulders and made his way outside. “In the name of all that’s holy, open this gate!” the voice cried again. Its urgency made his hands move faster.

    When the gate finally swung open, a gray horse hurried through, its rider leaning far across the saddle. A woman! Geoff thought.

    She half fell, half dismounted, and clung to her horse. “Murdered. We’ve all been murdered,” she moaned. Looking at her plain cloak, Geoff approached her. “What news is this, wench?”

    Before she could answer, the woman fell at his feet, her humble cloak opening to reveal rich garments underneath. Black blood spread across the fabric, the arrow shaft still protruding from her body. As he leaned forward, the Hampton ring revealed itself as the ribbon slipped from beneath her bodice. “Lady Gwendolyn!” His alarm now trebled, Geoff knelt and picked her up. “Help!” he yelled to the keep. “Help!”

    Soft rush light spilled from the open doorway as several guards ran toward him. “It’s Lady Gwendolyn,” Geoff quickly explained as he carried her to the trestle table, laying her upon it.

    “Fetch her brother Phillip,” the captain ordered another guard. “And bring the physician.” Amid the tumult, Geoff tended to his lady, removing the cloak from her shoulders and placing it under her head. Her chestnut hair hung in its thick, long braid, golden thread woven with it. Her complexion, now too pale from loss of blood, would normally be fair. And hands far too delicate for their task of late, had blood encrusted under the nails.

    Lady Gwendolyn moaned, sending Geoff’s hand pushing back the hair from her forehead. Her green eyes fluttered open at his touch. “Where am I?”

    “You’re home, Lady. Rest.” As he watched her close her eyes, he determined that whoever had brought harm to the House of Hampton, to this beautiful woman, would pay — dearly.

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    I have been involved in an ongoing chain story since July of 2005.   There are five main contributing authors living all across the US and one German who lives in Austria.  The story’s premise is a silly romp about talking mice who live on a popular band’s tour bus. 

     

    We decided to put the story into book form and sell it for charity.  All authors are donating their contributions.  I am donating the editing and formatting.  We found an illustrator who donated the book cover.  The intention is to print on Lulu, which, with the purchase of an individual ISBN, will cost $150.  Not bad for getting one book out the door!

     

    However, as the main editor for the project, I quickly realized that it was too long for one book. So, it was split into two. The second book gave me a lot of trouble.  It didn’t ‘hang’ right, so I spent one morning outlining it.  Sure enough, there were so many plot inconsistencies, my left eye developed a tic.  I’ve spent most of last week trying to smooth out the plot, and wound up cutting about 3000 words.  It now keeps the right pace, the right tone, and actually makes sense!

    I can’t wait to get it to the printers and see people’s reaction to it.  It mentions several people by User IDs of one particular on-line forum, and I know they’re anxious to see their “name” in print.

    Our last hurdle is to get permission from the band’s business manager before we can print.  Keep your fingers crossed for us, folks.  A lot of people are hoping we get the green light soon.

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    Black Wolf is one of the series of books I’ve written.  The first book, Black Wolf: Lakota Man, is for sale on Amazon, but the second, Black Wolf at Rosebud, is still in editing and should be out this summer. 

    The premise is about a family of four Lakota Sioux brothers who form an R&B band in Austin, Texas.  Here is an excerpt from the second book, involving a wild cow milking contest at a rodeo.

     ~~~~

    Once the men quieted down, the starter gun sounded and the cows were let loose.    Eighteen men scrambled amidst cavorting hooves and tails. Two members of one team grabbed two different cows.  Seeing their mistake, they both turned loose and passed each other running for the other cow.  Laughter roared from the watching audience.

    “Well, dogonit!  Pick one!” a frustrated contestant yelled.

    Dan followed Kele, who was chasing a black and white cow.  They sprinted across the dirt, dodging the bucking, bellowing cattle and frantic men.  With their cow backed up against the fence, Kele lunged for her neck, throwing both arms around her and hanging on for dear life.  Chayton clutched his milk bucket tightly in his right hand while waving with his left, shouting instructions like some crazed traffic cop.

    Dan ran behind the cow, trying to grab her thrashing tail.  He got hit in the face with her bristly whip and staggered backwards.  He could hear Kele cursing as the cow tossed her head, throwing him to the ground.

    With bowing neck and kicking hooves, the cow refused to be handled.  The noise from the crowd and from the other bellowing animals made her nervous and angry. Managing to turn away from the fence, she trotted toward the middle of the arena.  Dan dodged two other men and leapt toward the tail again, but missed.  Glancing over his shoulder, he could tell other teams were having as much trouble.

    “Keep the blasted thing still!” Chayton yelled.

    “I’m trying!” Dan yelled back as he made a grab for the flicking appendage.  At last, he had it in his hands.  Planting his feet, he leaned back as hard as he could, holding on with all of his strength.  The angry animal wasn’t having it.  She bolted, jerking Dan headfirst into the dirt.  He refused to let go of her tail and tightened his grip, praying Kele and Chayton could stop her mad dash before he ate half the arena.  Dirt and manure packed into his nose, his eyes, his hair.  He could feel grit in his teeth.  Still, he hung on.  He’d never gone cow-dirt skiing before and swore he’d never do it again.  Somewhere in the frenzy, he and his cow ran into another team, sending them and their animal scattering.  The people in the stands roared with laughter.

    “Kele, stop this thing!” Dan yelled.

    “What do you think I’m trying to do?” Kele yelled back as he made another lunge.  With both arms locked around her neck, Kele plowed his boot heels into the dirt, slowing the animal down.  With the tail still in hand, Dan leapt to his feet, spitting dirt out of his mouth, and trying to shake the worst of it off his face.  Finally, the two men had enough torque on the front and back of the cow to get her to stand still.

    “Now!” Kele yelled to his brother.  Chayton had already ducked underneath and began grabbing at the udders with one hand, the bucket ready to catch the first drop in the other.  The cow kicked, sending the bucket flying across the arena.  Cursing mightily, Chayton dashed through the melee to retrieve it.

    Taking a chance, Dan glanced at Lainie in the stands.  She was rolling with laughter, wiping tears from her eyes.  When she met his gaze, he heard her yell.  “Get ‘em, Dan!  Get ‘em!”

    Her encouragement turned his serious mood and he began to realize just how funny they all must look.  At the same time that Chayton returned, a roar went up from the crowd.  Looking over his shoulder, Dan saw one team running toward the judges with milk sloshing in the bucket.  Just a few yards away, another team’s cow bucked, sending one of the men sprawling backwards.  He knocked the pail bearer over, which sent the milk spilling into the dirt.  A collective groan from the crowd filled Dan’s ears, but he grinned.  They still had time.

    “Hurry!” he shouted.

    “I’m going as fast as I can,” Chayton answered as he dodged a hoof.  Dan could hear milk hitting the inside of the pail.

    “How long will it take to get enough milk?” Dan asked.  No one answered.

    Finally, Chayton stood up.  “Got it!”  He held up the pail.

    “Go!” Kele shouted.  He and Chayton took off for the judges’ table.  Dan let go of the tail and turned to follow.  Across the arena, another team also raced toward the table.

    “We can beat ‘em!” Dan encouraged his teammates.  He could hear Lainie screaming, “RUN!  RUN!”  The noise in the arena magnified as different people cheered on their teams.

    The other team grew nearer, trying to run as smoothly as they could without spilling the precious liquid.  If this were football, Dan would have gone into a flying tackle and stopped them.  But, he could only run defense, keeping obstacles and animals out of Chayton’s way.

    They were twenty yards away from the table.  Blue jean legs were swish-swishing in their frantic endeavor.  Both teams kept judging the distance from their buckets to the table and, out of the corner of their eyes, the proximity of the other team.

    “RUN!  RUN!” Lainie screamed.

    Now they were ten yards away, all six men grim with determination to reach the table first.  Chayton twisted away at the last minute from an on-coming cow, narrowly avoiding a collision.

    “GO, DAN!  RUN!”

    At the last few feet, all of them hurled themselves at the judges.  With a half-second difference, the other team’s pail hit the table first.. The crowd went wild as a third team raced to the table, making Dan jump out of the way.  Dan shot a regretful look at Chayton.  Leaning over, both hands on his knees, Dan tried to catch his breath, and then burst out laughing.  Even covered in arena dirt, even with shoulders he knew were going to kill him soon, that was the most intense fun he’d had in years.

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    I just received this e-mail and thought some here might find it useful.  A representative from Hastings Books will be at the fair to discuss getting authors’ books in their store.  I will be at the fair, and I know of one other from the Writers’ Cafe who will be in attendance.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Greetings, friends and fans of the North Texas Book Festival,
    and Happy Groundhog Day!

    According to the major media, the little Punxsutawney fella did not see his shadow today, so spring is just around the corner! With spring comes many exciting things, not the least of which (to our thinking) is the North Texas Book Festival. Here is the latest news from those of us who are working to bring the 7th Annual Festival, 3rd Annual Book Trails Dinner, and 1st Annual NTBF Book Awards to fruition!

    Festival Update
    We have just confirmed participation by WordWright.biz, Inc., a royalty publisher and author incubator located in the Texas Big Bend town of Alpine. Steve Neubauer and several of the WordWright authors will give a presentation about getting your book published, and will offer one-on-one consulting with authors throughout the day. Visit www.WordWright.biz and see if your as-yet-unpublished book meets their needs, and plan to sign up for a brief conference with them on Festival day (April 21). Even if it doesn’t, attend the presentation and get some ideas on how to move that as-yet-unpublished work to the next level!

    We are also hoping to have Randall Ham of Hastings Entertainment give a short presentation on how Hastings can help authors get their books in their stores, and set up signing events. Hastings stores are located all over Texas and in many other states as well, so this will be a valuable resource for you.

    Book Trails Dinner Update
    I am not going to give anything away, so this update is brief and to the point: It will be the Best. One. Ever. Please visit www.ntbf.org for a reservation form and return it with your payment by April 15.

    NTBF Book Award Update
    The books received for the Award competition are currently being read by our panel of evaluators. I see some of them from time to time and they are saying how much they are enjoying the books, and how amazed they are at the caliber of the writing. One thing they are all saying is that it is going to be difficult to narrow it down to three finalists in each of the two categories for this inaugural year of the award. Once they do, the finalists will be notified by March 15. Best wishes to all of you who have entered!

    Haven’t yet signed up for the Festival or the Book Trails Dinner? Why, are you waiting to see your shadow?? Make plans now to participate in the North Texas Book Festival, Saturday, April 21, in Denton! Please return your registration form by March 1 to be sure your name is included in the festival program! Visit www.ntbf.org for the registration form and more info about the upcoming event. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will devise an answer (I am, after all a fiction writer).
    See you there!
    Crystal Wood
    Festival Chairman and Executive Vice President of Unclaimed Priorities

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    Imagine, if you will, an open-air market in the 1600s, where exotic spices fill your sense of smell. Hustling, shoving people crowd through the streets in search of their daily bread, fresh vegetables, and fish just caught from the sea. Vendors’ yells fill your ears, each trying to draw your attention toward their wares.

    Now, change that picture to a modern day book fair, in a large auditorium or park. People file by the booths, looking at the confusing assortment of literature available. Instead of food, the vendors now hawk their brand of book.

    “Mysteries. I’ve got your mysteries right here!”

    “Fresh from the printer, romance novels. Just released!”

    As an author, you’ve spent time and money to get to the fair. Your display has been carefully laid out. Your game face is on as you do your best to get people to stop and look at your work. In the best case scenario, customers whip out their wallet and buy a copy – autographed, of course!

    What makes people stop at your booth? Why yours and not the one next to you? Getting them to slow down is a fourth of the battle. To stop — half. I’ve seen a few gimmicks and ploys in my life as a writer/vendor.

    Of course, dressing the table with eye-catching promotional material and colorful table cloths is a basic tool. But, there are more ways to the inventive soul.

    One couple dressed in Renaissance costume, complete with velvet cap, red brocade clothes, and leggings, to advertise their historical novels. One would walk through the crowd, their attire drawing attention. When stopped and questioned, they would send the inquirer to their partner, manning the booth.

    Another couple brought their banjo and microphones and began singing old ‘hill country’ music. They had an audience, but the other vendors hated them.

    I have seen candy scattered across table tops, luring people in with the ‘gingerbread house’ appeal. Peppermints, chocolate, fudge were the prizes. The price? Having to look at the author and perhaps engage in conversation.

    One mother/daughter team set up a large TV with a video that told the biography her husband had written. The method was quite effective, as many people stopped to listen and watch. For me as the neighbor, the first three times through were interesting. After that, I could quote the #$%@ thing myself. And I had to listen to it for two days straight!

    Quite by accident, I stumbled upon a method of advertising that worked quite well. During a lull in traffic, I opened my laptop and began reading to my booth partner a short story I had just finished. Inside of three sentences, the man in the booth next to ours scooted his chair closer and closer so that he could listen. After a few minutes more, a small group had gathered in front of my table for ‘story time’.

    When done with the story, many people commented on how good the story was, and eagerly looked at my novels. Just to make sure it hadn’t been a fluke, I tried it a few hours later, with the same results. It then dawned on me that reading my short stories out loud was the equivalent of a chocolatier giving samples out in the candy store. If the sample tasted this good, then a purchase was more easily assured.

    If you attend book fairs as a vendor, look around at the traffic. See which booths have the most people stopping by. It’s a competitive market and, to an untested author, getting anyone to buy your work is quite a feat. But, it can happen. You can do it!

    * * *

    There are several tips for setting up your table and for making sales.

  • Arrive the night before to set up your table. Having a dolly will help tremendously in reducing trips to and from the car, as well as reduce the strain on your back.
  • Decide how many copies of your book(s) you should bring. If you’re not sure, take several in with you, but leave plenty in your car (in case you run into a selling streak).
  • Bring a colorful, clean, ironed table covering.
  • Have small plate holders to hold copies of your book upright, so they are easily seen.
  • If possible, invest in small plastic sacks w/your website address printed on them. Use them for customers’ purchases.
  • Set out book marks, postcards or other advertising with the book cover and your web address on them. Don’t forget your business cards.
  • Find out the local sales tax, then compute the sales (plus tax) of your book to the nearest dollar. It is so much easier not having to deal with change.
  • Bring a receipt book and cash box.
  • Don’t forget felt tip pens (such as Sharpies) for signing autographs!
  • For personal comfort, I bring my own office chair with wheels. Usually folding chairs are provided, but after a few hours, those become instruments of torture. I also bring a personal fan. I’ve been in a stuffy auditorium before, and the fan became priceless! Snacks, bottled water, tissues, small garbage bags and the like also come in handy.
  • I recommend, if possible, asking for a table with electricity. It keeps my laptop running all day without wearing down the computer’s batteries. (But, you might need to bring a long extension cord.)
  • While there are many, many more things to consider, the most important might be to MAKE A LIST .

    Book fairs can be a lot of fun. Meeting other vendors and listening to their ‘war stories’ makes a slow fair interesting. But, talking to people about your book and getting them interested enough to buy one is the ultimate! As they pull out their wallet, don’t forget to ask…

    “Do you want this autographed?”

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    Here is the code for the Writers’ Block clickable button.

    <center><a href=”https://writersgroupblog.wordpress.com/&#8221; mce_href=”https://writersgroupblog.wordpress.com/”><br&gt; <img src=”http://pages.prodigy.net/chowchx/_uimages/WB2.jpg&#8221; mce_src=”http://pages.prodigy.net/chowchx/_uimages/WB2.jpg&#8221; border=”0″><br> </a> </center></p>

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