Tag Archives: A Snicker of Magic

Arkansas Reading Association Conference 2014

Last week was an interesting mix of writing retreat all on my own and face to face time with the public promoting my Cats in the Mirror series at the Arkansas Reading Association Conference 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas.

We have a time share condo, so I was able to spend a week in the Hot Springs/Little Rock area for probably less than two nights at the Marriott for the conference. On Monday and Tuesday, I hunkered down and got 10,000 words added to my manuscript for “Max’s Wild Night.” Since I’m hoping to keep it at only around 24,000 words, that’s a pretty significant accomplishment! My goal is still to have a very solid rough draft going into the Christmas holidays so I can let it rest for a bit. January will be serious editing and revisions, and then it will be off to my editor in February and book cover design can get rolling. Dog lovers, Max’s book is really coming!

Wednesday through Friday, I focused on set up and sharing my books with 1,000 teachers and administrators from Arkansas at the Arkansas Reading Association Conference 2014. There were some issues with the vendor area of the conference that can hopefully be worked out for next year, but overall those attending were delightful and felt their end of the conference went really well.

Kimba and Hiro were thrilled to meet so many teachers at our booth in the exhibit hall!

Kimba and Hiro were thrilled to meet so many teachers at our booth in the exhibit hall!

Our exhibit table.

Our exhibit table.

With any conference, who you have staffing the booths around you is crucial. You will be rubbing elbows for many hours — a lot of which there will be no one walking by and you will have to amuse yourselves. I was thrilled to have great folks surrounding my booth and learned a lot from them about past conferences and other events in Arkansas and Missouri. We covered for each other, and all of that camaraderie made the no-traffic hours more bearable.

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Lynn Hawking from Quirkles had a wonderful conference. Two presentations and happy teachers. I’d never heard of Quirkles science units before, but the teachers who already use it just love it. You should check it out.

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Dustin Rhodes from Lego Education was very popular. Who doesn’t love Legos??

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Dustin gave me a Lego “story starter” set as a thank you for watching his booth for a while. Kimba was impressed that there were THREE white cats in the set. She now thinks Legos are very cool

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Kim Stilwell from the National Science Teachers Association was our conference expert and got attendees to stop and sign up for her free book giveaway. I caught them on the way out of her booth.

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Jennifer Blalock from the Rainbow Book Company kept us entertained with her different pricing options to lure teachers in. $5 a book or 75% off or Buy 1, Get 2 Free?

Andrew Clements was in the building signing his Charlie May Simon Honor Book “Troublemaker,” and I freely admit to having a bit of a fan girl moment when he accepted the award only 20 yards away from me. I’m also curious to check out “The Little Red Pen,” which won the Arkansas Diamond Primary Honor Book Award. If it is half as adorable as the authors, I’m sure to love it.

Overall, I’m not sure that expensive booth spaces at conferences like this are worth the investment for independent authors. Sales were decent and feedback was great, but financially covering costs is nearly impossible. Most of the attendees were more excited about the famous, national award-winning authors there — and rightly so. They’ve earned it. I can only hope to be like them when I grow up. A ¬†great many seeds were sown with teachers and administrators who may want to schedule an author visit with me. That will be the saving grace, if any actually happen. What events are worth attending may have to be two blog posts in my January series on what I’ve learned about self-publishing so far. There are no easy answers.

On the “what I’m reading” front, “A Snicker of Magic” was great from beginning to end. Highly recommend for middle grade. I also finished “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson. It was superbly written. Much more appropriate for an older YA or NA audience because there is some sex, though it’s most innuendo. Anyone hoping to write for that age group should read this immediately. I’ve already requested Jandy’s first book “The Sky Is Everywhere” from my library. Right now, I am reading “Daughter of the Howling Moon,” an adult book by a local author friend, Ruth Burkett. Enjoying it so far. You had me at shape-shifting into a jaguar!

Sunday was Thanksgiving at our house to accommodate my daughter’s work schedule. I have certainly worked my own share of crazy hours over the holidays, and the dogs she cares for don’t care what day it is. They just want her love and to be fed. Thanksgiving Day here will probably be full of writing — and possibly a movie or two from the DVR.

I hope each of you is blessed to have family around you and weather that allows you to travel wherever you want this holiday weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Washington County Pet Expo

November may be a novel writing month for lots of aspiring and professional writers out there, but for me it is promote-my-book month…okay, and maybe some writing in there too. That’s not to say that I have anything against the NANOWRIMO trend, but with the holidays and fall book events November is not a great time for focusing specifically on writing 50,000 words for most authors I know. There is also a JANOWRIMO group. That sounds much more realistic!

I will be putting in my own mini-writing push the week of November 16th. Since I have a booth at the Arkansas Reading Association Literacy Conference in Little Rock on November 20th – 21st, I am taking that week to hide out in a time-share condo and finish my first draft of “Max’s Wild Night.” Some of those days are full of conference work and prep, but I should be able to put in at least four days of 6,000 – 7,000 word counts. That should get me at least close to that goal if not crossing the first draft finish line. Doing something like this last year was how I finished up “Vacation Hiro,” and that kind of isolation and writing seems to work best for me.

For this post it also seems appropriate to comment on the Veteran’s Day Holiday at least a bit. My family has a long and proud history of serving our country’s military, all the way back to the American Revolution. Yes, I qualify for DAR status and have family members who have devoted huge chunks of their time to supporting that group’s goals. Maybe I’ll get more involved someday since there is an active group here in Eureka Springs. My grandfather served in WWI, my father in WWII, and both of my nephews are currently on active duty and have served several tours overseas in nasty conflict areas. They have earned having their feet on American soil this year.

Patrick Errett Welch, WWII

Patrick Errett Welch, WWII

If you know of a soldier who is struggling with PTSD, be sure to check out the work of my author friend Pamela Foster. What she has learned through caring for her husband can help families working their way through the same issues. Some of her books are hilarious, but others are serious and face the issue head-on. Highly recommend.

On Saturday, November 8, we took part in the Washington Country Pet Expo to support low cost vaccinations, micro-chipping, spay/neuter options, and pet adoptions from the local animal shelter.

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“Leia” helped me man the booth, but she mostly wanted to see the cute animals that were everywhere.

We quickly realized that this event was a terrible fit for selling books. First, all of the cats and their people were brought in a side door and scooted back out that way. Great for the cats to avoid the crazy room full of anxious dogs, but terrible for us hoping to share our alien rescue cat books with them. Second, every “vendor” there was basically giving away services. The crowd did not come to buy. We had some lovely chats with the people there and had a great time dog watching, but that’s about it. Wrong choices like that happen when you are exploring new territory, so we just enjoyed the adventure. Consider the table fee a worthwhile donation to a great event, the day a fun time spent visiting with family, and move along with the month.

Rescue Family Photo

I created this especially for this event, and it certainly led to many conversations about the joys of rescuing animals from shelters and from the streets.

Our "granddoggie" came to be micro-chipped. Dottie is a rescue from Oklahoma and is beyond sweet.

Our “granddoggie” came to be micro-chipped. Dottie is a rescue from Oklahoma and is beyond sweet.

This little doxie was ready to run the show for the book the city set up. Woof, Woof!

This little doxie was ready to run the show for the booth the city set up. Woof, Woof!

Ziggy kept us entertained all afternoon at the book for XXXXX. He even got a puppy tattoo!

Ziggy kept us entertained all afternoon at the booth for the Canine Design Studio. He even got a puppy tattoo! He was especially talented at sneaking out from under their table cloth to sniff passing puppy bottoms and then slinking back unseen. Silly Ziggy.

In the next two days, I will be putting together my quarterly newsletter so I can send it out before my trip to Little Rock. If you don’t subscribe to it, you should! I only put out four a year with maybe one or two extra quick ones if there is something extra special going on. You can subscribe in the sidebar here at my website. Easy peasy!

On the reading front, I am LOVING “A Snicker of Magic” by Natalie Lloyd. It is just purely delightful, and I highly recommend it. I’ll post more later once I have finished and done an amazon.com review. Readers who love a book should ALWAYS share that love on amazon.com!

I hope everyone across the country has warm coats ready to go. Here’s to hoping that you avoid the early snow and stay warm and cozy while the arctic blast whooshes its way through.