Here’s Your Giveaway!

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Photos of this MONSTER Giveaway posted 03/30. Have some fun with this! Winners will be announced on 04/16 and packages to be mailed immediately after confirming addresses with winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also click “Giveaway” on my Facebook Author Page and enter from there.

Spread the word! Tweet, Share, Reblog, Whisper, Phone a Friend.
Good Luck all!

And let’s celebrate National Poetry Month with actual poetry!

national-poetry-month

Ready for a Monster Giveaway?

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In just two days it will be National Poetry Month!  I thought it was time to do a really HUGE giveaway to celebrate poetry and to show my appreciation for the support I’ve had along the way.

So on April 1, I will list an official Rafflecopter giveaway with two big prizes. The first picture is of the Monster of all Giveaways:

major goodie bag!

major goodie bag!

This above giveaway is special because it includes the rarely seen book,  I Wish You Joy, in hardback, and all kinds of cool goodies.

The second part of the giveaway is good, with just a little less offered. Here:

a mini monster goodie bag

a mini monster goodie bag

The total retail value of the combined giveaways with shipping is over $200!

If you don’t win either of these goodie bags, don’t despair. There will be yet more contests. You’ll be able to hit up Goodreads for a softbound copy of Paper Bones or By Light Betrayed (to be announced soon). And one more! Before the end of the month I will give away some ebook copies too. The other contests will be announced later.

April is National Poetry Month! Let’s read some poetry together. And if you don’t win anything this go ’round, consider buying my poetry or another Indie’s anyway. Your support of Indie authors like me is tremendously appreciated and very necessary!

Now, get ready for your giveaway starting on Wednesday, April 1 (no, that is not a joke)!

Oh — and I’m sorry, this monster giveaway is for US folks only (because of the size of each prize).

Get ahead of the game by following this blog or my Twitter or Facebook Author page. Spread the word, please! Good Luck!

******

Just a note to say yesterday was my birthday.  I was pampered and stuffed with good food, good company and plenty of love and laughter. Even my sister called (I almost never hear from her), so that was extra nice.  And I didn’t write a word yesterday. And it was good.  No matter how hard you work at your craft, or how desperate you are to publish, remember that if you forget to enjoy your life, it really won’t matter how prolific you are.

Yours Between the Lines, always,
Sherry

Do you help or hinder yourself?

Soapbox time!

Soapbox time!

Rant time!  I want to say something to all of you writers and authors out there who are jealously guarding your work, who are afraid to share “because someone might steal your idea,” who don’t have time to buy another person’s book, or who worry that if you help someone they won’t help you back….

So, all of you out there…are you listening?

BUNK.

Yes, there are writers and authors out there who don’t give two figs about you and it is all about them. They don’t want to read your stuff but they sure as heck want you to buy their books. There are authors and writers out there who need you to “like” and follow them on every platform imaginable but they don’t have time to return the favor. That’s the breaks, kids. You should like who you want because you WANT to, not because you EXPECT the return. Don’t live on expectations. If you do, you will be doomed to disappointment. On the other hand, if you agree to do book swaps, then you get what you get. But yes, there are other writers and authors out there who don’t give two figs about you. So, that’s the breaks.

If you are one of those who can’t share your stuff because you think it will be stolen….well then I say to you, “WOW, I didn’t realize you were that good and you will obviously be publishing a national best seller, right?” Seriously folks, there are a thousand ways to tell the same story and most of them have been done. So, do your own thing. If you can’t share it, you can’t publish it. You need beta readers and editors and so, relax and go to work. If you are still afraid that your work is so good that it can be stolen and reproduced that quickly, then maybe it isn’t that original….

And now to the juicy part. Helping others. This is a long post to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Robbie Cox, talented and prolific author of Reaping the Harvest, Sibling Rivalry and other works. Robbie and I have shared information for a long time. Recently he shared my name with a man who has a live radio show and now, I’m going to be on The Ron Shaw Show in October where I will speak about my books, specifically BY LIGHT BETRAYED. Without Robbie’s recommendation and support, I should not have discovered Ron and through Ron, discovered more opportunities.

Also, while I was at the Book ‘Em North Carolina Conference, I met Christie Silvers, award-winning internationally published indie author of a very cool vampire series. I saw her books on Amazon and I was delighted to purchase a signed copy from her. Well don’t you know that she sent people to my table for some vampire poetry? Just based on one meeting. So I returned the favor to those visiting my book. It was a wonderful exchange.

People, we don’t need to stab each other in the back or treat each other with casual disregard. Support each other. You know that I buy others’ books even when I don’t read that genre, even when I may never read the book, because I try to support them and I know what it is not to sell any books at all, right?  I mean it when I say I support Indie Authors.  Do you?

So there you are. Set aside your petty jealousy, your fear, your expectations, your selfish self-centeredness and relish the community that is called Writers and Authors. (And good karma never hurts, right?)

You can only benefit from this family. I know.
Thank you Robbie Cox, Ron Shaw, and Christie Silvers.

What’s your quirk?

I have a thing about sitting with my back to a front door when in a restaurant or anywhere that has people moving in and out. Comes from my father who served in the military, was a crew chief in Korea, and who didn’t like the idea of anyone “sneaking up” on him. I came to see the value in this philosophy and, also having served in the military, I saw it as a smart defensive posture. This philosophy is a permanent part of me. I act on it without thinking. I can sit sideways to the door, makes me a little uncomfortable, but I can do it. It’s a quirk.

A friend of mine claims she isn’t superstitious but when she sits down to eat, she always turns her spoons upside down so that the hump faces up. When I asked why, she shrugged and said, it was something she started as a kid. Her grandmother told her that bad luck settles in the cracks and bowls. She would rather not consume any bad luck or bad karma, so she turns her spoons upside down. Quirky.

Do you have a little quirk that makes your friend smile? (or wince?)

When we read books, the characters that stand out to us have characteristics that become classic or are indelible. We remember things that are original as well as beautiful or classic. Iconic characters have physical characteristics that are memorable, sayings that are endearing or catchy, and habits that make characters easy to understand.  And when they are quirky, well, that can make us smile and laugh because their foibles or quirks are ours!

From biting the nails, to turning spoons upside down, to the cop who can’t sit with his back to the door, the quirk is what makes the character real. Think of Ron Weasley from Harry Potter and his ratty, second-hand clothes. Think of an evil villain who whistles just before he kills. Think of Scarlet O’Hara who procrastinated with “tomorrow is another day.”

Are your characters imbued with quirks that can make them seem more real or endearing? Do they do things that make us smile and laugh or want to scream, “run!”  as we read?

Do yourself a favor and look at your character sheets. Find ways to add a quirk, something unique. It will give your book flavor and the character will become more three-dimensional for it. Those are the characters we want to know. They will be the characters we remember long after the last page.

Just like my friends who make room for me so I don’t have to sit with my back to the door. Quirky. But they remember!

************

Here’s some ideas: popping knuckles, forgetting where parked, plays with hair when braided, no ice in soft drinks, winks when nervous, tosses salt before every meal, always makes a dare about outcomes to situations, quotes lines from songs or movies in the middle on conversations, won’t eat anything green…

I’m nervous; it’s my first time.

Did that get your attention? How’s that for an opening line? Teasing, tantalizing, enticing, maybe a little salacious? Well, relax. Those were the words I said to the author next to me at Book ‘Em North Carolina 2015 Writers’ Conference and Book Fair this past Saturday. What I was admitting to was Book ‘Em North Carolina was my first ever book conference and I was nervous because I was also sitting on a panel called Books with a Social Conscience. And I may have been nervous, but excited and happy, too!

Book ‘Em is a one day event held every year during the last weekend of February. This year over 80 authors gathered to present their written works, meet other authors and greet readers. It was a very cool schmooze-fest.” People strolled by and asked questions about your books. They picked up some of your “swag” (if you had any like bookmarks, pens, buttons, etc.) and if they wanted a book, they picked one up, you signed it for them and they paid when they left the show. The wonderful thing about Book ‘Em is that authors agree to give 40% (or more) of the price of their book to the “cause” which are a variety of very worthwhile literacy campaigns. I’m a big supporter of those, so I was delighted to sign up for this.

As I said, this was my first event, ever. Therefore, I was uncertain how many books to bring, how much swag I would need (everyone has different stuff), how to decorate my table. But I checked out pictures from last year’s event, and came up with my look. I was showing my two books of poetry, but some authors had 8, 15, or even 25 books!

my author table

my author table

While there, I introduced myself to the authors next to me on both sides. Linda Vigen Phillips, author of the traditionally published and highly acclaimed non-fiction novel, Crazy (which I purchased), brought her computer to play her book trailer. I forgot about bringing my portable DVD player. It would have been very cool to run my trailer for By Light Betrayed (next time. Thanks, Linda!).  Very cool idea because a sharp trailer can draw a crowd and entice others to buy right there on the spot. Lesson learned for next year!

Linda's author table

Linda’s author table

On the other side of me, Gretchen Griffith was showing at least four books, both self-published and traditionally published. I bought her Wheels and Moonshine, an award-winning historical non-fiction biography. She brought two other historical non-fiction novels but also had an illustrated children’s picture book.

Gretchen's author table

Gretchen’s author table

Linda and Gretchen sat on a panel together (the hour before my panel) and discussed writing memoirs. Panels give general information and allow questions from writers and guests in all levels of expertise and experience. Sort of gave me some idea of what to expect when my panel came along.

Writing Memoirs

Writing Memoirs

My panel had five members but two panelists didn’t make it. So there I was with bestselling authors Dr. Patrice Carter and E. Marie Sanders. Dr. Carter writes spiritual self-healing and Ms. Sanders writes Christian Romantic Fiction. We three talked about our writing and how it provided a societal “conscience,” or if indeed it did. We spoke about moral and social obligations and how we see our role as writers. It was a surprisingly dynamic topic. Our audience was small but intimate and the questions were intriguing.

Books with a Social Conscience

Books with a Social Conscience

I met others during the day that brought smiles. A mutual acquaintance (friend of my best friend) popped by my table and I returned the favor. Book sharing goes on everywhere, but no one expects anyone to give them a book. Afterall, we are there to make a donation to the cause, right? So this was my meeting with multi book author H.V. Purvis. I purchased his newer book, Death in a Small Town.

H.V. Purvis and me

H.V. Purvis and me

And I have to mention the fabulous author on the other side of Linda, Jan McCanless. I bought her Tire Patch Cookies are Good For the Soul. Jan described herself as a little like Irma Bombeck, only prettier. Jan’s the author of the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries, seven of them so far. She claims that she writes “happy murders.”  And her focus is a presentation with humor. The book I bought is her second compilation of her newspaper and magazine articles.

Jan's author table

Jan’s author table

And before I go, I need to say I had to stop by and pick up Scott Mason’s book, Tar Heel Traveler. You’ve probably seen Scott on TV if you live in the tri-state area. He’s the reporter for WRAL’s Tar Heel Traveler show, with over 100 journalism awards, 14 regional Emmys and three National Edward R. Murrow Awards. Yup, that Scott Mason. And such a warm and sweet guy he was, too!

Next to his table was another very popular and best-selling author Christie Silvers, author of the Amazon best-selling Liz Baker series. I bought book one (I had seen book four on Amazon and admired the cover, so I had to buy the first volume and get her to sign it). And need I tell you that the book, Time for Death, is a vampire tale? Oh yes. But wait! Guess what she did! After I bought her book, she sent two folks to see me to pick up a little vampire poetry. Was I surprised!? So my first two sales of By Light Betrayed were because of Christie. Blown. Away. She was amazing. And me a stranger.

my Book 'Em purchases

my Book ‘Em purchases

The whole day was  extra special because I had my husband there to share it all (he’s never seen me “be the author me” like this, so this was a first for him too). My first conference experience was positive and invaluable and I’m ready to get back to writing and to go to the next event that I can, soon as I can. I like making contact with the people. And what they will tell you is priceless.

Linda, Gretchen and me

Linda, Gretchen and me

Everyone has to have a first time. My first time was delightful, informative, rewarding. As every first time should be, right?

Next time, I have ideas for my table and more books to write!

If you have questions about preparing for your book fair, drop me a note via the Contact Me page and I’ll be happy to answer them.

*****

Before I go, I want to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Valentine Day and Chinese New Year.

But don’t think I’m going to let all you leprechauns get away. I’m sticking around. More on the search for the pot o’ gold next time!

Vanity? Thy name is NOT “Writer”

Today was the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! That means for the next 30 days I will pursue, with single-mindedness, a goal of 50,000 words and the completion of a book. Or something passing for a book, anyway.

Now, to achieve this, some sacrifices will be made. Friends and family will understand if I don’t chat as much, text as much, email, call or otherwise am seen beyond the library and coffee houses or wherever my computer and I happen to plant ourselves.

But mostly, I have to tell you, I’ve discovered a little known fact about NaNoWriMo and the writers – the WriMos. We are not vain. Nope, there’s not a whit of vanity hovering about us. Know how I know?

Take a look at the writer in the coffeehouse. Massed over the hair is a pair of headphones. Music and noise cancelling are more important than the latest coiffure. If no headphones, then a headband to hold the hair back so the earphones are unobstructed. And in many cases, the writer sports a ball cap. Oh not to go all Greta Garbo (we wish we had such fame)! No, this is to shade our eyes from the ugly florescent lights so that we might focus on the shiny computer screen or, in some cases, to take the glare off the writing tablet (you know the one with paper, right?).

So here we have the headphones and ball cap — Voila! Hat hair. Maybe that hat is also hiding something else…the dry skin from either the dry air of the coffee shops or the air conditioner or the heat. Writers invest heavily in moisturizers because, well, we need them! But it doesn’t diminish the fact that we have “computer skin.” That’s why we try to write outside when we can but there again is the hat, ball cap, or we end up in the shade…ah, moisturizer.

Next, let’s examine what else the writer must sacrifice for the craft. How about the cold fingers or arms. Yes those busy fingers must be kept warm and those lower arms must not suffer in the drafts. So you’ll see fingerless gloves and arm warmers. Not the most attractive things but ask the writer who feels relief if he or she cares?? The arm warmers are a lot like leg warmers of the 70’s. Oh, wait…those pesky leg warmers ARE BACK! You’ll see writers wearing those too. Even ugly UGGs. Yup, a writer will place comfort and warmth above all sense of style.

Finally, the writer who finds a comfortable corner at home in front of the fireplace will most likely be in sweats or jammies, and the fuzziest of slippers or mules or socks. Yes, comfort. The long hours in early mornings or late nights require that thinking of cold or uncomfortable body part not be a distraction. Terrycloth robes, ratty sweaters, all are included in the “I’m too comfortable for my shoes” writer.

And then let’s consider nails. Now, I’m not going to tell you that all writers have short nails because they don’t. But I will tell you that serious typists keep their nails short and don’t’ worry about whether or not their polish is the trending shade. Not for next 30 days anyway. Nope, those nails are going to be short so the fingers (in the fingerless gloves) can hit those typewriter keys with wild abandon! Long nails make me miss the keys and are a blooming nuisance!

Let us not forget diet. Ah WriMos have to have their inspiration. Chocolate, cookies, chips, gum, chocolate (did I say that?), coffee, coffee, coffee. Tea, water, coffee. You get the idea. Things that taste good, are quick and easy and some thing that we can reach for in the drawer. And then there is wine, and some prefer that glass of whiskey or scotch and we know what alcohol does to you (why moisturizer is important!). WriMos have to have their snacks. These sustain us in the tense word count moments. Not good nutrition but who’s worried about that right now?

Hair, skin, warmth, comfort, nails. clothes…all are sacrificed for the goal of 50,000 in 30 days.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s to Armani, Valentino, Donna Karen, Louis Louboutin, Bob Mackie and all the other famous designers dressing people around the world who do care about how they look and how tight their Spanx are. Bravo to them all. Just remember, none of them are doing 50,000 words.

And if they are doing it in designer duds, then they probably don’t care if they complete the goal or not. They can afford to be vain. And hey, after all that who gives a crap what you look like?? You’ve written a book!

But we writers on the street….let’s see…that’s 688 words and counting…pass the hot coffee and the blankie, on your way out, won’t you? I need to heat my mac and cheese and then I’ve got a chapter to finish.

Oh and hey, I’m not saying that the NaNoWriMo writers don’t care about being presentable.

Just don’t bother them – me – with such trivia for the next 29 days. Pass the chocolate.

Don’t Most Writers Love Halloween?

Just a week and a day until All Hallows Eve, the most magical time for the imagination. I love Halloween, always have. Nothing pleasures me like a good thrill, a creepy chill, a scary goose bump, a stray scream, a suspenseful tale. As a child, I loved to dress up and become someone new. I think this carries over into today’s world, right? We have Cosplay and LARPing, we have card games where we “battle” one another, or we roll the dice to see what power we will exert over another player who is a druid, a thief, a knight, a magician….or how much blood you will drink from your victim.

These games and dress ups of today are like blossoms of Halloween, to me. I remember the Fall Harvest at the school, where old-fashioned carnival games were played while consuming cotton candy, candied apples, or soft serve ice cream. There would be pumpkin carving competitions, baked goodies bought in the name of the PTA, and a dunking booth. But at the end of the afternoon, as twilight would tickle the sky into shades of mauve and indigo, we would race home to put on our costumes!  The time for haunting the neighborhood had arrived!

And then we would meet up in the street, a gaggle of friends, with parents watching from front windows and wood porches up and down the street. We were so safe and yet we felt so free and unencumbered. It was a glorious night for treats and tricks and giggling good fun.

We became princesses and pirates, superheroes and super villains. We had Mighty Mouse (more than Mickey) and Huckleberry Hound, a multitude of Dracula’s, Frankenstein’s and Mummy’s (the cool, foot dragging one). The object of Halloween was to scare and be scared in character. It was a real, true Halloween. This was the kind where when the Hound of the Baskervilles howled, you were quivering and turning on the light.

Ah, Halloween and the characters we played! But think on this a moment. What are writers but creators of Halloween? Maybe you don’t write frightening creatures like the Fly. Perhaps you write of fairies and princesses, of mothers or dancers. Weren’t there ballet dancers and baby dolls in Halloween too? I was once a blue fairy.  I was once a military member and a prairie girl. And then I was a queen, a tap dancer, a witch and eventually, a vampire (that one seems to have stuck).

So we all grew up and instead of dressing up all year long (the Dragon/Comic/Trek cons are all a new phenomenon), we turned our love of characters into stories. And then we could play act any time we wished, live any fantasy, be anyone we wanted, anytime we pleased.

Yes, Halloween is the imagination’s wild ride, the magical playground. But really, weren’t we – the ones who ran down the street, screaming like banshees – the ones destined to live out our characters all the days of our lives? We  became the keeper of characters!

We became writers.

It’s almost Halloween. Actually, it’s always Halloween for writers. Get ready!

Trick.

Or.

Treat.

BOO!

BOO!