<![CDATA[Books By Deanna - BLOG: Selling Books]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 18:56:01 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:07:13 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8897219Offended. Or Not.
    The first lesson a writer learns is not to be offended when her work is critiqued or reviewed. This wasn’t a hard lesson for me, because I grew up in the era of “no offense intended.” “No offense taken.” We don’t hear that exchange much anymore, or at all.
    Instead we get a daily barrage of offenses taken. Whether or not offense was intended doesn’t seem to merit discussion. Being offended is an emotional perspective. And like all emotional perspectives, it’s a choice. You can take offense, or not.
    All this nonsensical rhetoric about the offensive behavior of adults when the National Anthem is played. Those behaving badly say they don’t intend to offend anyone. Then why do it? You’ve offended half the world! Disrespect to the flag disrespects what it symbolizes. What it symbolizes is everything that makes it possible for you to be a wealthy star and have such prominence and voice. If you can’t respect that, then give all that up. You can’t? Then I guess that makes you all the biggest hypocrites this country has ever seen. Your behavior is offensive, but it doesn’t offend me. It makes me angry. There’s a difference. You’ve offended the nation.
    Last week I saw posts-gone-viral, all these complainers offended because of the words our President said while consoling a war widow. He said the deceased soldier knew what he was doing, knew when he went in. Anytime anyone knowingly and willingly gives his life for another, or for a noble cause, and dies for that, he is a martyr. Our President was acknowledging that martyrdom. And the temperamental haters went ballistic, offended by his words, when nothing offensive was said, or intended.
    One facebook post this week complained about a younger store clerk calling an older woman, “young lady.” She was offended. I can see a boy trying to be adult in his job, casual maybe, clumsy. But offensive? I’ve a friend, who every time I walk in the door of his store, says “Well, hello there, young lady!” He’s the same age as me, neither of us young. I’m not in the least offended. It’s another way to say, “Hi, I’m glad to see you.” We can choose to be offended, or we can consider the intention.
    Coincidentally, the same day I read about someone being offended at being called “little lady,” this happened to me in the breakfast room at my hotel. I walked in, a man tipped his hat and said, “Good mornin’ pretty little lady, can I pour you some coffee?” “Thank you kindly,” I said. “I’m not a coffee drinker.” I’m also not in the least bit offended. No offense was intended.
    I never stopped saying “Merry Christmas” to everyone I meet during Christmas season. I also wish my friends happy birthday and Happy Hanukkah. If they’re offended by my greetings when no offense was intended, the problem is of their own making; I offer no apologies. Yet, I read a man’s comment on being offended that at the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts the staff says, “Have a nice day.” He said he’s able to have whatever kind of day he chooses and it’s no one’s business. He’s offended that people think they can invade his space by wishing him a nice day.   
    When did Americans become so fragile? So thin-skinned? So suspicious of the motives of others? So self-encapsulated? If someone out and out slanderous, says something suggestive or filthy, take issue. But taking words and intentions out of context and taking offense at everything is not healthy. Most of us are not brilliant orators or wordsmiths. Much of what comes out of our mouths isn’t what’s in our hearts. Yet we expect others to express themselves perfectly and poetically for our benefit, so we won’t be offended. We’re all just tiny specks in a world that does not revolve around us. If no offense is intended, no offense should be taken. Toughen up, Americans.
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog9835278The Legacy of the Dog Park
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Buddy and Dave at the Dog Park
    Many years ago, I built a dog park. I wanted a place to train, play, and exercise our golden retriever Lily, who trained for agility, rally, and freestyle. I looked around the community for a vacant piece of land that someone might lease for a buck. I asked a friend from the country club, a retired veterinarian, a dog lover, who owns much of the property in our town. He thought it was a great idea. One night at dinner he was so excited he couldn’t wait to tell me. He squatted next to my table and said, “I know just the place!” When he explained which piece of property, I nearly choked. It would be so convenient! But I knew it was out of my price range.
    “Oh no, it isn’t at all,” Sam said. “It’s mine! I’m going to give it to you to use for a dog park for as long as I own it.”
    I got an estimate for fencing. It would take 30 people each paying $135 to join to install the fence. I didn’t advertise but before long we had fifty members! This field in our neighborhood, large, flat, half-shady, was long-neglected, a collection place for Styrofoam cups and drink cans. After bush-hogging, it was stubble and thorny vines. Under the vines, we discovered a rusty propane tank that required Hazmat removal. Under the surface of the stubble were several rusted pieces of machinery, abandoned over the years. Eventually, we cleared the field. We covered it with free bark chips, grass seed, and loose pieces of sod; soon, we had a grassy lawn. For many years now, it’s been a lovely green park, fenced, flowers outside the fence, barrels of balls and toys, and agility equipment. It was immaculate, an asset to the neighborhood. People coming in to the neighborhood slowed down and enjoyed it.
    I published a monthly newsletter to all the members of the dog park. A constant stream of new members paid the $135 to join, and we each paid $25 a year for dues. This was enough to cover the maintenance which involved mowing and lawn care, occasional tree or debris removal following a storm, new toys annually, and optional training programs.
    Two years ago, to the dismay of our members, the property sold to the Country Club. They kept it operational until they decided what to do with it. The dog park continued to operate, but was now for Country Club members only. They can’t, by law, offer their amenities to nonmembers. This broke my heart, since I’d built this as a community park, not a private club. But, I was no longer in charge.
    We’ve continued to use the facility; Buddy visits the park to play ball every day. He’s often the only dog there, as there are fewer users now, and most are seasonal. Sunday was the day we’ve all been dreading. The fence was removed and rolled up. Colored flags are stuck in the plush grass, where this week it becomes a muddy construction site.
    We had a good run, made a lot of community friends we otherwise would not have known, and had a lot of fun. It’s sad to say goodbye; I know it will be missed. Like Joni Mitchell’s old song, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 11:54:03 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog4337717Remembering Fatima
    I hold to the belief that the wrong in our country is because of a lack of humility. Different people set forth their lists of errors of our times, blame education, Dr. Spock, affluence, entitlement, a lot of things really. But it all goes back to lack of humility. Some folks say it all began with taking God out of the classroom. But, why did that happen? Modern people find it difficult to follow Jesus and profess faith in God. Why? It’s very difficult to worship a God when one believes themselves superior. Hard to hold on to faith when all the other-gods disappoint. Following Jesus isn’t easy, not by a long shot. But, it is simple. And it requires humililty.
    At a time when we’re encouraged to “find ourselves,” “live for the moment,” “if it feels right, it’s good for you,” it would help to hear we aren’t lost, God knows exactly who and where we are. It would be helpful if we listened and believed that heaven awaits; this moment is a preparation only; decisions have consequences and in every moment we need to be our best selves. How many people are suffering the effects of doing what felt right, but, in fact, was not good for them? The despair, the hopelessness, is the result of the absence of God, Our Hope, in our lives. There isn’t room for Him in ego-inflated hearts. Our sophistication, our obsession with the world’s material goods, and our preoccupation with self-importance, is all the same thing: a lack of humility.
    Last weekend around the world Christians commemorated the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and miracles of Fatima. I participated in a Rosary Rally, one of thousands held across the country. Remembering Fatima is a lesson in humility for all the world.
Saint Mother Theresa reminded us that God doesn’t choose the qualified; He qualifies the chosen. With a look at Scripture we can list those unqualified minions whom God chose to be His workforce. Read the biographies of the Saints, if you want to see some unqualified bunglers! They were the youngest, not the wisest, the poorest, not the well-born, the shyest, not the boldest. They were humble and accepting; childlike. We are all called to Sainthood. The Saints could inspire us, but first we have to discover them, and be humbled.
    To emulate saints requires humility, and a childlike expression of faith, such as the seers of the apparitions of Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima. Those chosen to see the Mother of Jesus, to hear from her what He wishes for them, were all children. Why? Because children are so accepting and so willing to believe. They aren’t the strong, but meek; they need of God. Their hearts are pure and empty for God. We all need that grace to accept God’s love, we all need humility to accept the words of Our Lady of Fatima when she delivered her messages to three little Portuguese farm children who didn’t know or understand her words, but who, nevertheless, recited the messages to the world for a hundred years.
    Humbly we need to hear. Humbly we need to pray the rosary, as Mary instructed. Humbly we must accept the love that has been given to us. And humbly, strive for Sainthood.
     Read the stories of Juan Diego, Bernadette, and the three children of Fatima, Lucia, Jacinto, and Francisco, and grow in courage and faith. There is a wonderful children’s picture book titled The Day the Sun Danced. I can also recommend Fatima and the Triumph of Mary by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, and The Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer, Hail Mary by Peter Ingemi.
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:24:17 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog2012133Why Read or Write Historical Fiction?
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Rebecca and Heart: Coming Soon
Easier to digest
Easier to remember facts
Easier to empathize
Easier to see other perspectives

    That’s the “outline” I start with when I’m asked to speak on this subject, which I did a few weeks ago at a Literary Symposium. Today I signed a contract for a new historical fiction, so I’m talking to myself again, about this very topic.
    When one hears a nonfiction account of an historical event, one hears names, places, dates, and learns the final dispensation. It’s black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. It’s often just not that interesting.
If that’s true for us as adults who have an appreciation of history and understand the need to know our history, then how much more it’s true for young readers who need to develop an appreciation, understanding, and respect for history, and perhaps an interest.
    That’s more apt to happen if they can put themselves into a story; when they can empathize with a character who’s living it. They are more likely to remember a date when it’s attached to something they find important or interesting and not just a timeline memorized to pass a test.
In my writing career, I’ve been gratified by stories of reluctant readers who read book one of my Avery books, then asked to read book two. I’ve seen even adults who know a lot of history, discover a different Jefferson Davis than the one they thought they knew, after reading Jim Limber’s story.
My next book to be published is historical fiction, about an orphan girl and her adopting family in pre-WWII London, and a shaggy mutt. This is the Tale of Rebecca & Heart.
    Until 1943, autism didn’t have a name. Children with autistic behaviors weren’t understood; they were considered “odd.” This often resulted in neglect, maltreatment, and exclusion. In 1943, autism was researched and named by Dr. Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland. Even though the causes of autism still aren’t known, treatment and better understanding have been available since the 1960s, allowing autistic children to function, be educated, and grow in their communities with more understanding and compassion. The number of cases diagnosed increases annually, though it isn’t known why.
   Autism today affects one in 68 children. That means every student is likely to meet someone like Rebecca during their school years. I hope knowing Rebecca’s story will help the readers understand better, and enable them to love that autistic person and stand up for him as a friend. Perhaps after meeting Rebecca and the mutt Heart, they will take time to discover the unique gifts many autistics have. Perhaps they will learn how to help them feel accepted while respecting their space and needs. I hope their love for Rebecca and Heart will extend to their autistic classmates.
    Without statistics, without timeline, or a box of facts and data to be tested on, without preaching, I hope this story can make a positive difference in young lives. I believe historical fiction is a good way to do that.
 
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:11:40 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6170451The Hobby Lobby Story
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North Carolina Cotton Fields
    When the Hobby Lobby story first went viral, we were without power following Hurricane Irma, then we left town for a few days; I only heard snatches of the story. I thought it was a parody news source, a joke; it was so ridiculous, it couldn’t possibly be real. When I learned it really did happen, I laughed and said I wanted to interview that protester.
    Is it the Hobby Lobby craft store chain you have an issue with? If you're fortunate enough to have one near you, then you also have the competitors of Hobby Lobby, like Michael’s, JoAnn’s, or some other regional store. You have a choice: shop there, or don’t. Why do you go into a store that upsets you so much?
    Is it their product line that distresses you? No one forces you to go there and look at what they have. I go into a lot of book stores. I find erotica and distopian novels disturbing, disgusting even. So I don’t look at them, pick them up, or read the backs. I don’t go to that part of the store. It never crossed my mind to demand the store close or remove products because I don’t like something on their shelves. If a product bothers you, why not walk away and leave it for someone who might like it? When did you develop such a sense of importance? Do you need a cape for your job of protecting citizens?
    Or is it that you don’t like cotton bolls in your floral arrangements? Don’t buy cotton bolls. Buy sunflowers, roses, cacti; whatever you like. Every product in every store is not intended for you. You don’t have to like everyone else’s arrangements. Has someone appointed you as Superintendent of Aesthetic Tastes for Everyone? That’s a lot of responsibility, isn’t it?
    Could it be 19th century farming practices you object to? Well, you’re a little late to that party, but if that’s your protest, then you should probably also stop eating rice, drinking coffee, and using tobacco. And to give your protest credibility, I suggest you don’t wear cotton tee shirts and denim jeans for your 2 minutes on prime time. 
    At the conclusion of the interview, I’d like to thank her for informing us where to find the cotton bolls I need for a wreath project I saw on Pinterest using stems of cotton. It’s for the door at my mom’s nursing home here in NC. She lived her first 92 years in Michigan. I’m sure she’s never seen a Southern cotton field in bloom, or raw cotton. I want to share that with her. It's an amazing sight to behold. Anyone who grew up in the South can tell stories of picking cotton in them old cotton fields back home.
Alas, Protester, the world is so much bigger than you.

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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 11:36:11 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7118871Reading Poetry
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Plenty of poets in North Carolina
    A favorite pastime with my brother, when we were kids, was rhyming words. One of us would say a word, then the other would see how many words he could think of that rhymed. Of course, it was helpful if one could come up with a word that didn’t rhyme with anything!
    I played with song-writing, too, and sang my made-up songs of praise and worship at the top of my lungs while walking to my grandma’s house two blocks away. Of course, they rhymed; sort of.
     I admire poets and the poetry they write to enrich our lives. I’ve enjoyed listening to poets read their work and have learned from hearing them read their own work that there is a special way to read poetry, in addition to the special ways of writing it. It can be as beautiful as music. It’s not read like prose; it has a different rhythm, different inflection, almost without punctuation, it seems.
      One particularly gifted poet from here in the mountains, was Kathryn Stripling Byers, who was once poet laureate in our state. Kay Byers held many awards and recognitions for her work, and had several books of poetry published. She died earlier this year. Last Sunday at a lovely reception in her honor, it was obvious that what people loved about her the most was how she encouraged others, her students, young and old, newbie poets, and writers in general. I had only met her in person a few times with others, though I admired her work. My impression of her whenever I saw her, was that she was more interested in the work of others than in talking about her own. She had great humility. It seemed her greatest joy was seeing others succeed. Several of the guests were accomplished poets because of their teacher, Kathryn Byers. Many of her works were read at the reception, one was even put to music. She left the literary world a legacy. For prose writers like me, her work is almost other-worldly; something for us to enjoy even though we can’t ever hope to write or read it so beautifully.
      I’m definitely not a poet, but my latest book, Spirit the Tiny White Reindeer, is a picture book in rhyme. It was fun to write, and I think children will have fun hearing it, over and over, until they can say the rhyme themselves, sing-songy in child-sized voices.
I’ve written some other things that are called poems, though they are nothing like what Kathryn Byers wrote. They were written while I was driving, alone, speaking aloud, stringing together metaphors and tossing about adjectives as if I had a trunk filled with them. They sounded good, and the more I recited it, polished it, the better it sounded. But by the time I got it on paper, it was flat. It’s prose. Alas, I’m not a poet.
    I’m thinking of taking a poetry class, because reading poetry helps me write. When I hit a wall in my writing and walk away from it for a bit, it helps if I read poetry. When I teach writing and I’m asked what to do for “writer’s block,” my response is, “Read some good poetry.”
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 02 Oct 2017 11:52:30 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7708142Robbing Graves
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Model of reconstruction project at Fort Dobbs
    I had the afternoon free after a morning school visit recently in Alexander County, on the edge of the piedmont of North Carolina. I used the time to track down a brown and white historical sign I’d seen in town directing tourists to Fort Dobbs. I’m mostly familiar with Civil War sites, so I’d not heard of Fort Dobbs, which turns out to be from an earlier time. Fort Dobbs is the only historical site in North Carolina that specifically addresses the Seven-Year War, also known as the French and Indian War.
     As most wars, this was fought over access to resources, with France and England contesting North America. November 18-19, Fort Dobbs Historical Site will present a Military Time Line from Revolutionary War to the present. This living history program honors the sacrifices and contributions of veterans by telling the story of more than 200 years of military service in North Carolina. The experiences of soldiers of the American Revolution, Civil War, World Wars, and other conflicts will be shared through displays and weapons firing demonstrations. Sounds like a fun family field trip! The admission is $2.00. You can find Fort Dobbs in Statesville, NC. http://www.fortdobbs.org/events
    I enjoyed my visit with the knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly ranger. The museum is small but worthy, with a gift shop of unique period items and things students might use in a report (or this author might use on her book table!)
     Most of the site is under reconstruction, however, so not a lot to see. The white oak that grows abundantly in the piedmont and was used in the original construction, is being hand hewn using reproductions of period hand tools. The fort is being reconstructed using the same construction techniques and tools as the original. Piedmont, by the way, is another word for prairie, so when you see the fort surrounded by a flat plain of grass it’s an authentic look. I could imagine the wagons and the horses, the smoke from cooking fires. There would have been more trees. And there will be again, as the reforestation and reconstruction continues. A model of the fort inside the museum shows what it will look like when finished and will once again honor the nation’s past.
    For writers of historical fiction or nonfiction, visits to museums and forts like this one are source material. Here is where we unearth lost language, once so eloquent, salted with words like sippit and hewn, with no economy or apology invoked. Names on gravesites are given to new literary characters to carry on once more. Food and the preparation chores buried with tough women make us hungry to know more. Verbs and nouns from our past ignite our pages and captivate the imaginations of our readers, and justify our craving for writing one more book.
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 12:19:23 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog4666793​Looking For Big John
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John Siefke, Taylorsville, comes to dig every day.
    Aventurite: It’s my new vocabulary word for the week, a habit developed in fourth grade. I actually used it in a sentence!
    Jason Martin and his son Dalton gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of Emerald Hollow Mine. I never thought a writing career could land me in a mine. But then Jason hadn’t known his IT career would lead him to owning a mine. Thirteen years ago he was installing IT at the Hiddenite Gem Mine. The elder owners were passionate about gemology and geology; but not-so-much about running a business. Their friendship with Jason grew into “family,” and upon their retirement in 2014, Jason became the new owner determined to organize a sustainable business while holding on to the heart of the “family” business. The name changed to Emerald Hollow Mine.
    This is the only operating public emerald mine in North Carolina. Rich in mineral content, dense veins are deep within the 37 acres. Only 3.5 acres are exposed. Jason is adamant about stewardship. Recycling water and soil, managing run-off and erosion, the mine is proud of its record for conservation and safety and inspection compliances.
More than 40,000 visitors a year makes the mine a community cornerstone. School field trips are a daily part of the mine’s routine. Students come from four states as far as four hours for the interactive educational program with three geologists and three gemologists as well as a chance to dig in the dirt or sluice. Here they learn what makes rocks special: it took a long time to make them.
    Along with black tourmaline, chromium green mica, rubies, aventurite and emeralds, the visiting miners hope to find hiddenite. It was first discovered here by Dr. Hidden who was digging for platinum on behalf of Thomas A. Edison who hoped to use it to add longevity to his light bulb. This lovely gem sells for $60 a karot, $5000 cut and polished. The tiny one in my picture is valued at $250.
    What a fun place to visit and mine in a creek, in a sluice, or dig in a pit. There’s so much to learn about dirt and rocks! Have you ever busted a geode? Did you know the Charlotte Motor Speedway was built on an extinct volcano?
    All this and more at the Emerald Hollow Mine in Hiddenite, NC.
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 25 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog5217144Book Seller on the Midway
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The Busy Midway
    I don’t often work at community festivals because I’ve learned that my audience isn’t accessible there. Middle graders, when they are in their home town environment, don’t hang with parents, don’t have money, don’t want to carry a book around, and if they do have some money they’re looking for pizza and Coke. They’re with their friends feeling too cool for their shoes. They aren’t buying books and don’t want to be engaged in a conversation with an author.  So local town festivals aren’t usually good for me.
    Civil War reenactments, on the other hand, are excellent venues for me because middlers attend with their parents and grandparents, and they have an interest in the Civil War. The elders want to encourage the interest. There are many home school families who attend reenactments and living history days; the publisher of my Avery and Gunner books is well-known to them. BJU Press/Journey Forth publishes a lot of their curriculum and families trust the brand. That’s why you see me at so many of these events selling Avery’s Battlefield, Avery’s Crossroad, and The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber.
    Last weekend I did attend a community festival three hours away in my own state. I didn’t expect to sell many books for all the reasons above. The Hiddenite Heritage Foundation invited me. Their museum has an extensive doll collection. I visited them when Blue-Eyed Doll was coming out, to talk to them about carrying the book in their shop and having my presentation as one of their events. They’re hoping to do that in the next year, and the events planner thought this would be good exposure for me and the book. Marketing is often as simple as looking for future opportunities.
    The Hiddenite Celebration was a surprise to me. It was well organized, had 87 vendors, 4 entertainment stages with different kinds of music and dancing all day, lots of food and craftsmen, like apple farmers with a cider press, homemade ice cream, and horse-shoeing. Native Americans demonstrated crafts like flute-making, carving, weaving, and baskets. I saw some of my Indian friends from the museum in Cherokee. I’ve been wanting to give Mr. Owl a copy of McIntosh Summer, so I did that.
    Hiddenite is a small town in the rural piedmont of our state. Soybeans, tobacco, and furniture manufacturing are the backbone of these counties of small towns and farms, of honest, hardworking people. The hospitality, patience, and genuine friendliness of the folks are enough to bring me back. And books? I sold a big bunch of books including Spirit the Tiny White Reindeer which was on the table for the first time.
    The marketing tip I’m sharing with authors today is that not every venue is going to be a good one for you. Try different ones, then assess them with a business mindset. You need to look at your long term goal. Always remember that not all your books sold today are purchased today. Business cards go home, and the memory of the books will linger, sometimes for a long time, but eventually the sale you made today will be purchased. Marketing takes patience, especially when you can’t pinpoint the reason a venue was a success or a failure. And sometimes you just need to have fun selling books.
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<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:12:10 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7680450​Meeting an Actor
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Captain Ricketts in "Gods and Generals"
    When I was young – today’s middle schooler – I had a love affair with Hollywood. I loved Debbie Reynolds, Esther Williams, Audie Murphy, and a slew of other mild-mannered screen artists of the 50s who practiced their craft and lived private lives. As an adult, I’ve divorced Hollywood, its idiocy and shamefully public lifestyles. I’ve joked that if I ever met an Oscar winner, other than Clint Eastwood, I wouldn’t know it. I put that to the test last weekend, and it’s true!
   A tall man stood in front of me at the reenactment last weekend in Waynesboro, VA. We had a pleasant conversation, though I wasn’t following everything he referenced. Then he explained his unique perspective. He is David Foster, actor. He was Captain Ricketts in Gods and Generals, and the 2nd Lincoln, the congressman, in Killing Lincoln. He showed me “the Lincoln walk.” He told me how modern cinematology can use a series of old photos to recreate movements. He studied the movements and the walk for his part as Lincoln in Mercy Street, on PBS.
     When researching the era’s position on race relations, he came upon a story of the first black cadet enrolled at West Point Academy. James Webster Smith of South Carolina was admitted in 1870. The Academy didn’t want him to succeed and tried everything to make him fail, but he was an outstanding cadet who ranked well. When it came time for him to graduate and receive his commission, the Academy couldn’t have it, so they said he’d cheated on a history test and expelled him in 1874.
    Foster was so astounded, he told his young son, “I’m going to show you how Americans right wrongs.”
 He called his congressmen and arranged a meeting. He went to West Point and researched the archives. He went to Washington. It took a couple of years, but the great-great-granddaughter of the cadet was formally received at West Point’s graduation where she was given his diploma and his commission posthumously.
    “Of all I’ve accomplished in my life, I’m proudest of that,” he told me.
    He doesn’t live in Hollywood. He lives in the real world. Thank you, Mr. Foster, for righting that wrong.
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