Tuesday, September 30, 2014

JUST my opinion - readers just don't care

Based solely on my completely unbiased unscientific study, readers just don't care one fig if the book they're reading and enjoying was published by a big name publisher, a small name publisher, an unknown publisher, the writer who wrote it or the writer's granny.

Sometimes, those of us who published our own novels forget this.

To those of you who are self-published, or indy authors, or whatever it is we're now supposed to be calling ourselves, I hope you'll remember this.

It was brought home to me loud and clear at a signing I did last week at one of the best little bookstores around.  Quarter Moon Books, Topsail, Island, NC does what needs to be done to stay in business.  They've created a place where locals come to hang out, and tourists look forward to stopping in when they come back to the island year after year.

In addition to an excellent selection of books, there are things that appeal to readers, including a line of journal notebooks by
Compendium that I am over the moon about - take a look!  http://www.live-inspired.com/Her-Words-C233
.  I always pick up one or two when I'm there.

It's filled with fun, funky, happy displays,

a coffee bar with some of the best coffee I've ever had, and a comfy little wine bar with the occasional wine tasting event 

and even some music on the deck by local talent.

Go by there most any evening and you'll find a crowd on the patio deck.

If we lived on Topsail Island, you'd more than likely find us there a lot of evenings.  I could probably just move into Quarter Moon, actually.  I'd love to have the place all to myself some night - sorta like my own goofy version of "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." There are clothes and hats and jewelry I've a hankering to try on.  I'd like unlimited time to scan all the books I'm not familiar with, sit with bookstore kitty Socks in my lap and

 read through some of the sensational section of children's books. 

 Taste some of the wine on hand and sip it out of one of the gorgeous wine goblets on display and nibble on some cheese arranged perfectly on one of the beautiful beach-theme platters.

But, I've drifted off point here . . .

Back to my theory that readers just want to read.

Quarter Moon readers who stopped by last year when I was there, and again this year just want to read, and they're on the look-out for new books by new-to-them writers, I think.  Otherwise, why on earth would they poke their heads in the door to meet a writer they've never heard of and then actually buy her book?  I did ask one of the women who stopped by for a visit if she followed publishing news and she looked at me blankly.  So I asked specifically if she ever opened a book to read who the publisher might be.  She said no, and I could tell by the way she answered that she was confused by why I would even ask that question. (End of my unscientific experiment).  I expect these readers are like most readers.  You know?  I'm thinking they just want to read.

And truth be told, I kinda miss those days before I knew anything about the business end of books.  I miss those days when someone would say to me, "Have you read . . . ?  Oh!  You will love it!  Give it a try," and I would based only on that.  People warned me that I would start reading like a writer when I wrote "Whimsey."  I'm not sure that it's true to the extent some of them thought it might be, but sadly, it is true.  If, however, the story and the characters are engaging enough to capture my interest and my own imagination, the reading like a writer thing disappears fairly quickly.  I'm glad.  I don't want to read a book and find myself critiquing it, or reading it with planning a review in my mind.  I want to just read and live in the story.

When Donald and I got back to the rental house that evening after the signing, I was feeling on top of the world.  It was a fun night.  I love talking "books" with other book lovers.  I wrote down a couple titles that were shared with me and I passed along some titles that some of these readers wrote down.  And it hit me once again, that no matter how much promotion an author does, there's nothing that is ever going to surpass word of mouth.  An enthusiastic "Have you read . . .?!" will still sell me a book.

In the meantime, I'm still dreaming about my one night I could spend all alone in Quarter Moon Books and what fun it would be . . . 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What we did in September

We had a perfect September vacation after a rocky September beginning.

Donald started his September with a bad back, a kidney stone attack and a cracked tooth, a bad experience with our (former) dentist, an emergency root canal with a new-to-us endodontist and a better experience with our new-to-replace-our-former  dentist.

It had to get better, right?!

But it got mega better.

We all love vacation, but probably nobody loves it as much as Harley.

We were all excited about our trip to the beach, but it couldn't have started any nicer than this.

A visit with two of our favorite people,

Margaret and Joe Maron

Usually, when we're together, it's a hit and miss hug and a quick chat during a mystery convention - Margaret and Joe are busy and Donald's not around.  

So it was pretty special to be able to spend some time visiting with Joe and Margaret at their  home and having time to catch up and talk about everything under the sun.  

Anyone who knows this lovely couple knows how peaceful it is to walk around their place and to just relax in the gracious comfort of their home.  Even Harley felt it when Joe commented on what a well behaved dog he is.  (That was Joe being courtly and kind).

And - - - 
We got to sample Granny Knott's Baked Toast for breakfast - yes, it's delicious!!!

And Donald got to thank Margaret personally for giving one of her characters in her newest novel, DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS, the name Donald Barley.  Not *just* Donald Barley, but the handsome Donald Barley!

From Joe and Margaret's, it was a quick and easy two hour drive to Topsail Island, and The Hi-Sea, which was our home away from home for a week.

Where we had a nice deck to sit on 

and a pretty decent view -

even from inside.

Why argue with  things?

Sitting on the deck seemed what was called for.

So sitting on the deck was pretty much all we did.

And were thoroughly entertained

by birds -

some dolphins -

a couple little lizards,

more birds, 

some surfers,

and a couple of helicopters,

along with some pretty spectacular sunrises

But, you know - just having this to look at all day was nothing short of heavenly.

and if you have a cup of coffee while sitting on said deck, well, even better

Toss in a cute boy, and it gets even better!

Toss in cute boy with his dog, and well - you get the idea.

We did leave the deck long enough to walk the beach and play in the surf several times.

And, of course, that meant naps were needed.

Then came the day that I really needed to shop, so I took off on my own while Donald and Harley held down the deck without me.

There are cool and fun and funky shops, boutiques and galleries on Topsail Island

and I came home with a fun new bracelet and a much needed manicure

I had to have a manicure 'cause who wants to do a book signing with ugly nails!

Especially in a bookstore as perfect as Quarter Moon Books!

It was a wonderful event.  I sold several copies of "Whimsey," and Harley was pleased as punch to sell a few copies of "My Name is Harley and This is My Story."  

My thanks, as always, to Lori Fisher and Claire Braxton for having me.  And to the delightful staff for making me feel so welcome  (they serve the best coffee on the island - try the Hot Creme Brulee, YUM!), along with the folks who stopped by for a visit - especially those who bought books!  

I love Topsail Island, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love Quarter Moon Books.

I think Donald likes it too.

Meet Socks - the cat who owns Quarter Moon

 and these two dolls who live there (sorry, but I cannot remember their names!)

We did actually do a little exploring around the island

Now, how ugly is this Toadfish?!  Ugh!  Poisonous too.

Topsail is very doggie friendly, and this was one of the dogs we met.  Mable lives in one of the shops.

I can't pass up the chance to wander through the marsh while I'm here.  Isn't it beautiful??

We ate some scrumptious meals - none better than this Shrimp & Crab Au Gratin

Although, I have to say, my breakfast strata turned out pretty darn good.


After all this excitement, it was back to the deck

and then, suddenly, it was time to head back home

You know.
Home's not a bad place to be.
We have some pretty awesome sunrises here in these mountains, I much say.

Life is good.