<![CDATA[Books By Deanna - BLOG: Selling Books]]>Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:07:37 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 15 Jan 2018 12:46:06 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8753475It’s All in the Details
Trish Brite knows it's attention to the little details of her costume that create the perfect body of work
​           At a school visit last year a sixth grader asked me, “What’s the difference between an essay that’s a C or one that gets an A?” It didn’t take me five seconds to come up with an answer. “It’s about the details.” We did a quick exercise in the class together.
            “I’m turning in my C paper, now,” I said. “I’ll read it to you.  “The boy sat down on the curb. He was hot. He scuffed his old shoes in the dirt.” In the next few minutes those three sentences took on real life with a smudged-face sweaty boy in a ragged tee shirt; no shade anywhere, the leaves were all curled up and thirsty. His torn Converse with knots in the ties shuffled in the dust, his big toe protruding through the worn hole. The students layered and layered the details. I could see their eyes sparkle with interest as our character began to breathe before them. They began to care about him; what would happen to him?
            They were on to it now. We broke into small groups. Someone in each group wrote a C paper, 3-4 sentences. The group changed it into an A paper in a timed four minutes by adding details. One kid tugged at my elbow. “Ma’am! Listen to this! Is this good?”
            Not everyone sees details. Some people can look at a night sky and call it dark; writers write a paragraph on the same sky and never mention the dark.
            As always, when I’m able to teach someone about writing skills, I learn something myself. What I learned from these sixth graders was the absolute necessity of details to bring the work to life. Of course there are mechanics – spelling, punctuation, and grammar – but perfect spelling, punctuation, and grammar alone will not make a story come alive. Think about an oral storyteller. Those are essential skills for a writer and for anyone communicating or in business. Essential! But for a writer whose work must leap off the page and into a reader’s heart, it’s all about the details.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:36:51 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7413537A New Year with a New Book
    I’m getting this new year started after packing away the Christmas, beginning with a foggy window glass replacement, a dishwasher repair, a jacuzzi fix, and starting my next marketing project for the new book. Because of an annoying head cold I can’t visit the nursing home, so I’m totally connected to the work at hand here in my writing loft: introducing Rebecca & Heart to the literary world.
     I’d like to tell you, the mini blog visitors, about this new book, Rebecca & Heart. Written for a young adult audience, it should have wide appeal to teens and adults as well. Autism is a frequent talking point these days on facebook, in magazines, and the news in general. So is bullying. Both are building a fan base for their causes.
     This book, which I began in 2010, is being released this week. Rebecca, an orphan in pre-World War II London, is autistic. Autism wasn’t a word yet, and the disorder had no diagnosis or treatment protocol. Children with the disorder were considered to be “odd.”
    Bullying was around then, too, as it always has been, but was credited mostly with boys being boys or nasty girls being catty. The behavior was generally unpunished waiting for children to grow out of it.
     Autistic children were rare for that generation and for lack of understanding, the children were often neglected, uneducated, bullied, and even abused. It was frustrating for the afflicted, and for those who were charged with their care. No one had figured out how to reach them in their silent, distant, and “odd” world.
      Sitting alone on the kitchen stoop shelling peas, Rebecca sees the creature watching her. Both avoid eye contact. Neither wants to be touched. Both are curious. When Rebecca discovers she can communicate with the animal without words, and when the furry creature realizes her hands are summoning him, a friendship takes root in Rebecca’s silent world, and in the heart of a stray dog. A girl who doesn’t speak and a dog who doesn’t understand human language form a bond that sustains them through the chaos of war, and the perils of growing up. Change comes over the household, as her new family learns from Heart the dog how to negotiate the frustrations that befall them and how to communicate in quieter ways.
     I’m overjoyed that two professionals in the field of autism read the manuscript and submitted their comments to the publisher for the back cover. Both believe Rebecca & Heart is an important book for our time. Today autism is not rare. It afflicts one in 68 children in America. This means that most of our students will, at some time in their school career, meet someone like Rebecca. I hope that knowing Rebecca and Heart and their story will help them to become a friend who can appreciate the uniqueness of their new friend, and will suggest tools for communicating with each other.
     The book is published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press in Aledo, TX, and is available wherever books are sold.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:43:47 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6209897The Feast of the Epiphany
    Is it the end of the last year or is it the beginning of our next liturgical year? Since my family celebrates Christmas the weekend following Christmas, which is often a New Year’s weekend, The Feast of the Epiphany seems most like the beginning of the New Year for me. Just as when the magi, the wisemen, the foreign kings, finally arrive to Jesus, it signaled the end of a journey, their search for the light being over, the beginning of something anticipated yet completely unknown, is about to unfurl before us. Every year, in a new Jerusalem, we find ourselves face to face with Jesus, determined to offer our best, but unwittingly walk backwards leaving only what we think we can part with, for another year. Probably not our gold.
     I’m not suggesting that we bargain or negotiate with Jesus. But when we at long last, on a year’s journey, discover the Babe in the Stable again, what shall we give Him? Gold, frankincense, myrrh? Probably not, even if Target or TJ Max has it on sale after Christmas. What He wants, what He hopes we will bring Him, is our best self. The one He chose and created for us. So that we could use it, honor it, and bring it back to Him, whole, clean, and holy. Whether we give ourselves as we celebrate the end of the year as a thank you, or at the start of the new year as an offering, probably doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we come, bring the best we have gift wrapped in love, and endeavor to journey through the next year being the best person we can be, doing the best we know how, and follow His shining star until it once again leads us back to the simplicity of a stable.
    Sometimes the journey seems endless. There are storms, turbulence, illness, even deaths. We meet robbers, pirates, liars, evil doers, and a lot of distractions. Some are masquerading as good things to entice us off the good road. We must keep our eyes on that star. And keep on going. That’s what wise men do.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:56:13 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6811487Where Do You Get Your Ideas for Stories?
Accidental Research
    Are you surprised I received some books for Christmas? One package held four little treasures: Stayin' Put, Short Stories of Edenton; A walking Guide to Edenton; the County history, and an architectural guide. A second package held An Architectural Portrait, with descriptions of all the houses in Edenton. I'm studying them all: reading, taking notes, marking pages, cross referencing, and asking questions. This is research. I've no plans to use any of this information in a story or book about Edenton. But you can be sure that sometime, for some book, I'll need to know something I'm learning. Maybe I'll need to know what the cupboard looked like in 1920, or how heavy the seining net is.
     When I was writing Waiting with Elmer, I pulled scenes from my childhood memories of my grandparents' rooming house and the characters who were their "roomers." I didn't write in intentionally. I was surprised when I read it!
     I'll be doing research at St Simons LIghthouse in a few weeks. It's possible that some of the stories in Stayin' Put about growing up on the Albemarle Sound will provide some background. For instance, I just read that you can hear crabs moving in the grass at low tide. I didn't know that, but I'll bet my characters who lived in the lighthouse at St Simons did know that.
     Research for a writer can be deliberate or accidental. If it's interesting, mysterious, humorous or dramatic enough to grab an author's attention and nestle into the brain, it's a sure bet that sometime it will resurface and come to life on a page of a book about a totally different subject. And no one will be more astonished than the author.
     This current trip to Edenton is a business trip but just as all trips, it adds to my mental file of places and imagination that color my characters' world.
      Sometimes I'm asked, "Don't you ever run out of ideas?" How could I when I've not seen everything yet?
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 01 Jan 2018 18:39:08 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog5754441End of the Year, End of an Era
The Beginning of a New Era
    Because our family is so large and not all in the same place, as my own was when I was growing up, we began the tradition of a second Christmas when our oldest children began growing families of their own. We didn’t want them to hurry through their tree and gifts and pack up to go to grandma’s. We did that. We often took our kids to “early” church, had the tree, packed and left with peanut butter sandwiches in the car on Christmas Day to arrive in another state in time for Christmas. We told our adult kids, take your time, enjoy your day. We’ll have Christmas for you and your siblings the weekend following Christmas. With a year’s planning, they can all manage to get off work and get here. So, the Saturday after Christmas is our family Christmas. Every year we’ve grown in numbers. We now number 30; 27 were here this weekend. The final car left this morning. Are you surprised my Monday blog is late getting posted?
     Part of our celebration involves something we call “Party Pieces.” This started a long time ago as an attempt to impress on youngsters that not all gifts had to have brand names and cost a fortune. Some gifts can come from the heart; some gifts can come from your own talent, creativity, or life experience. It’s kind of our family version of kindergarten Show and Tell. We’ve had some great shows over the years. Years ago Sally & Charlie and their two sons (now married and serving their country) wrote and sang a parody of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, with the lyrics pertaining to how Grandma got run over by a Golf Cart. One year our daughter-in-love Laurie brought all the younger generation little drawstring bags filled with “jewels” and she sat on the floor and taught them about gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Son Billy, a brewer, gave a Science Guy demo once showing us the fundamentals of the brewing science. We’ve had travelogues of vacations, guitar performances by teens, and…you get the idea. Not everyone participates every year, but it’s always enjoyable. Charlie, in their new location, is a volunteer fireman. He brought his entire go-bag and showed us how firemen dress and how they are protected. We all had lots of questions, but four-year-old Gram was so awed, he was speechless for the only time all weekend. We have a lot of fun with Party Pieces.
     This year Dave & I brought a party piece. We made a scripted power point about our three weeks last November in Edenton. With the   final pictures of a turn of the century bungalow and its historical architecture, we announced that “this old house will become our new home in the new year.”
    This is our last Christmas in our mountain house. Gasp! They were all happy for us. The hardest room to leave is my writing loft. What will my new writing room look like? I’ll let you know.
    Happy New Year everyone. I hope your year will be as interesting and exciting as mine is certain to be!
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 28 Dec 2017 12:45:32 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog3928287Hearing Voices
    When writers get together, the conversations might cause some eye-rolling or snickering by those outside the realm of writers. The week before Christmas our critique group had a luncheon at my house, where we talked about writing. One of the writers shared that she’s having trouble getting her latest work out of the starting gate because she isn’t finding the right voice for her character. Instead she’s hearing her own voice when she reads what she’s written. She asked for suggestions.
    I asked her if she hears her characters voices before she writes. Does she listen to them? She said, “Sometimes. Maybe. Not sure.” Before I write anything at all, I listen to my characters talking. I hear their dialogue, their complaints, their excited voice, happy, frustrated. I hear the regional dialects, the language habits; I listen to their personality developing. Not just once; many days, weeks, before I begin.  This is done in silence. This is usually in my car. Radio off and traveling alone, I have no one to talk to, but plenty of voices to listen to. I do hear voices. Often I listen to their conversations when I first wake up in the early morning before I even open my eyes.
     It hadn’t occurred to me that not every writer does this. It isn’t something I planned or practiced, it’s just my approach to character voice and dialogue. Everyone must have a method. I’m sure there are a million ways. This is mine. If Grandma starts hearing voices, the family might go into a familial panic; but it’s okay for the writer to hear voices. I think.
    Writing Rebecca & Heart, releasing next week, has taken a long time. I think one reason is because Rebecca lives in a silent world. She never spoke to me. I never heard her voice. The readers will not hear Rebecca speak until late into the story.  I had to interpret her body language. I had to watch her, and see her soul. And slowly her personality unfolded for me, without any voice. It has taken a long time to put her personality on the page good enough that readers will know her, recognize her, and love her.
     If the protagonist is silent, whose voice will be heard on the pages? Perhaps that’s why sometimes the author’s voice is predominantly the one that is heard, because there was no voice to hear, or because the author wasn’t listening. In this case, the narrator’s voice is the fly-on-the-wall. His voice is clear, self-confidant, a-stiff upper-lip Brit, and amusing, offering light-hearted commentary on the plight of Rebecca & Heart.
     It was hard to write the voice of a non-verbal protagonist. I had to listen hard to “hear” that voice. I hope my readers will hear what Rebecca wants to communicate.
     The book in its beautiful cover is available next week from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press or from your favorite book store, who can get it for you.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 25 Dec 2017 12:52:53 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog5814040From the mountains of western North Carolina, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year. 
VW Bus Loaded
    This prayer has been tacked to my office bulletin board for so many years I can’t remember when it wasn’t there. It’s tattered from so much use. In 2017, I traveled 19,000 miles with my books. I never leave home without first praying it.
    So, for everyone traveling from Atlantic to Pacific for that homemade pumpkin pie, this is my prayer for you today:

Motorist’s Prayer
Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand and watchful eye.
That no one shall be hurt as I pass by.
You gave life, I pray that no act of mine may take away or mar that gift of thine.
Shelter those, dear Lord, who bear my company, from the evils of fire and all calamity.
Teach me to use my car for others’ need; nor miss, through love of undue speed,
The beauty of the world; that thus I may with joy and courtesy go on my way.
St. Christopher, holy patron of travelers, protect me and lead me safely to my destiny. Amen.
Guardian Angel Prayer
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:01:12 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog2864365Authors and Indie Retailers, Sharing the Pain
Page after Page Book Store: Elizabeth City, NC
    I’ve blogged several times about authors promoting Amazon and how Amazon hurts authors and devalues our work. I’ve blogged about small towns whose downtown retailers have been swallowed up by Walmart and Amazon. I’ve begged readers to use Amazon as a last resort, not as the go-to. I’ve cautioned authors to be mindful of the fact that Amazon is the #1 competitor of the indie bookseller, so do not go into the store to sign books and tell their customers your books are on Amazon! I’ve blogged about ways authors can partner with indie bookstores for the benefit of both. But this week I learned even more.
    I was in my favorite local gift shop. It carries very high-quality gifts, household items like dishes and silver. They are seasonal, May through Christmas. Because several years ago I went there looking for Advent candles, and she didn’t have any, she ordered them for me. I told her I would tell everyone at my church this is where they can find them. She carries them every year now. I went in the other day, she was happy to see me, and said she’d just asked her husband if I’d been in yet for Advent candles. This isn’t a huge purchase. It’s my loyalty she appreciates.
    We talked about that. She said, “People don’t seem to realize that small volume shops don’t get the price breaks the big volume shops get, so we can’t offer the huge discounts. You see this chafing dish? To discount it, I would have to order 500 of them. And I know I can only sell one or two a season.” She said customers come in and tell her directly that they just want to see the items they intend to order on the internet. Sometimes they take pictures of things they like so they can find them on the internet. I told her I’ve been signing books when someone asks the price, then ask how much it is on Amazon! I tell them the truth. I have no idea.  She said, “What really frosts me is when they say it’s because they get free shipping! When you buy from me you don’t pay shipping either, and I’ll even carry it to the car for you!”
     We commiserated over our shared pain. I have a laminated spread sheet I keep in my sample case. I use this when I visit bookstores and other retailers. My columns show the retail price of the book, what my purchase price is, and what my profit is at 30,35, and 40% discount. On one title at a 40% discount I lose $1.95 per book. So, no, I can’t give a 40% discount on that book. Showing them the facts ends the discussion. They get it. They share my pain. They understand that I promote them, I support their stores, and my loyalty is worth the difference. Big stores don’t care. They are used to dealing in volume and want 50% and think they are doing us a favor at 45%.
     So, one more time consumers: if you want to have bookstores, you must shop there, support them, and change your Amazon mind-set. If you want to keep your downtown shopping alive, you must actually go there and shop. You must change your Big Box Mentality. When it comes to bookstores and downtown retailers, you must use it or lose it. Sadly, many are losing them for want of a bargain. That bargain comes at a great cost.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 18 Dec 2017 12:50:45 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog9841718Gingerbread Tradition
    It was Christmas 1977, in Gaithersburg, MD, when I first learned to bake and make gingerbread houses. It started simply enough with a picture and directions in Good Housekeeping Magazine that said anyone could do it. All the moms in our neighborhood decided to give it a try. What an array of houses, all made from the same pattern, but all different!  I had no plans to continue this as a tradition. But, every year following I was more adventurous. One year it was a manger scene with Nabisco Shredded Wheat thatched roof and hay. Another year it was a church.     The year our two oldest daughters each bought their first homes, I made dollhouse-sized replicas of both houses, including the peppermint stick basketball goal. I taught my Brownie Scouts to make little gingerbread houses, and by the time they were Juniors and Cadettes we were making big houses to sell at bazaars to fund our Senior Scout trip to Our Chalet in Switzerland. I made small houses with CCD classes, school classes, Cub Scouts, and grandchildren who decorated our entire house with spilled candies and the 3-second rule.
    The gingerbread tradition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, began in 1992, as a Christmas display by some community members. There was no plan to continue it either, but now that little display is the National Gingerbread Competition, featured in magazines and on TV nationally. Entries are from many states; adults, teens, youth, and children compete. They run the gamut from Star Wars to castles, to Santa’s workshop, to swimming pigs.
We live only 90 minutes from Asheville, and visit the competition annually. Last year, Dave and I took friends Donna and Vytas to see the gingerbread house display. (It’s their story that I’ve written in Rock & a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story.) We all enjoyed the day. Gingerbread houses aren’t just for children!
    If you’d like more information or would like to enter the 2018 competition, check out this website. The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, is worth the trip anytime but especially when it’s decorated for Christmas.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:40:42 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog6637515A Cause for 2018
The Therapy Dog at Work
    The first book published for me was in 2010, The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog. It’s a nice gift for anyone who likes dogs, or anyone interested in therapy dog work. This book will clarify for all, the difference between Service Dog and Therapy Dog. They are not the same animal!
    It’s gotten quite commonplace to see dogs accompanying their handlers in places that used to be verboten. I, for one, am happy about that reversal. But it has also brought about confusion, and misuse.
The book is not a training manual, as in A, B, C, 1,2,3. Rather it discusses the dog’s innate qualities and gifts, enhanced by training, and how they are utilized in therapy. The stories show how important the interaction is between humans and animals, especially marginalized humans.
    People pretending they have certified animals is a dangerous practice. There is a website (perhaps, more than one) that instructs one that for $45.00, any dog can be certified a therapy dog. It explains the law concerning therapy dogs and service dogs. It says, you must keep your registration with you all the time. If anyone questions, which by law they cannot do, just show them the card. No one is allowed to ask you anything about the dog, they can’t ask why you need the dog, or what service the dog performs. You don’t have to answer them. They can only ask is it a service or therapy dog. That’s all. You are protected by law. For $45. That’s what it says.
    A young man at the nursing facility where my mother is, has one of these dogs. I reported him. I also wrote to the D.A. in FLA asking that the licenser be put out of business. This is a dangerous practice and must be stopped.  
    While petting Buddy, this man told me all about his black lab that weighs 125 pounds who is his "therapy service dog." The fellow is in a wheelchair and was temporarily there for therapy. I asked him what the dog did for him, and he was off and running with his $45 educational spiel. His girl friend was going to bring the dog in for a visit one day soon. I looked up the website he’d mentioned. His spiel was verbatim!
    When we walked in the front door,his dog saw Buddy. He lunged, lifting the girlfriend off the floor and pulling her like a water skier toward us. He was snarling, growling, hackles up. I swiftly yanked Buddy into a resident’s room and pulled the door shut.             Everyone at the nurses’ station witnessed this,
and were surprised to see me walk toward the agitated dog. I asked the girl on the floor if she was okay. I told her to take the dog out of the facility. I turned to the guy and said, “Do you realize what would have happened if one of the fragile residents had been between your dog and mine?”
    Everyone began to reassess the wisdom of having a therapy dog visit their facility. Maybe dogs shouldn’t be here at all. I said loud and clear, “That dog is NOT a therapy dog or a service dog. He is an unmanageable pet who needs to stay at home.” On the way out the front door the dog lifted his leg on the door casing.  
    People are doing this for all kinds of reasons: they don’t want to board their pet while they go on vacation; they want to fly with the dog; they like the prestige of having a special animal. None are reasons to endanger other people or other animals. It also jeopardizes the existence of therapy dogs and service dogs as their reputations are tarnished by these phony registrations and the “real” law that protects them.
    If you are looking for a cause for 2018, perhaps you can join me in this one. Write to your representatives and congressmen and write to the D.A.s whose states allow these businesses to exist. Buddy and I thank you.