Stealth Book Giveaway

IMG_4768In September, my blog birthday month, I like to do nice things for people who visit my website. A few years ago, I extended the giveaway to my friends on social media. This year I did myself one better. I had an IRL spontaneous giveaway of my new novel. It was so fun. Everything just came together to make it happen.

I was in Florida without internet the first ten days of September so couldn’t set up any traditional giveaways like Goodreads. (The photo above is the basket our Michigan Sisters in Crime donated for a charity auction.) For part of my Florida time, I was at a book convention. I had several copies of my new release with me, just in case the bookseller ran out and needed more. I was walking with my fellow Michigan Sisters in Crime member, Bobbi, and I realized I didn’t want to carry MY books and all the hardcover books we got inside a book bag when we registered. I took out a book and handed it to Bobbi. “Here! My present to you!”

She said she would buy it but I just waved that away. My September giveaway had begun. In the hallway there was a long table full of free books. Lots of people obviously felt like me and didn’t want to carry a book bag full of hardcovers around or maybe they had duplicates or something. Anyway the books were there and I went over and put a copy of my book on top of the pile. I walked by ten minutes later and it was gone. So I put another one in the pile. After the panel discussion, I noticed that second one was gone, too. So I put a third book on the pile and two women who were sorting through the books looked at me.

“You wrote this? You know this is the free table, right?”

I said, yes, I wrote it and yes I knew it was the free table. One of them immediately grabbed it and tucked it in her book bag. I was having such a good time giving away my books. (You know how that works, right? Do something for someone else and you’ll feel happy, too.) Then I noticed on Facebook people were saying they bought the new book or they wanted to order a copy. I was in Florida and two of the friends who commented that they wanted to get the book were there, too. So I gave them books. Then I gave my dad one,  because he asked. He’d never read any of my previous books.

(My dad’s reaction after reading my book was so sweet. On my last day in Florida, he took me out to dinner and he said “I can’t put that book down!” My book. Then he said “How did you do that? How did you know all that stuff?” I told him a little bit about how I researched the book. “You are a really good writer, honey. You are as good a writer as any of them.” My dad reads a book a day, all mysteries, so this was a huge compliment. He looked at me a new way that dinner. He always had loved me, but now he was a little bit in awe of me. It was so sweet.)

Keeping it in the family, my brother had asked via Facebook if he was ever going to get a copy of my novel and I promised him one as well. The first thing my mom said to me when she came to my house for a family party in August was “Do you have a book for me?” I gave her one. I gave my small critique group each a book, and we don’t usually do that. We usually buy each other’s books as a show of support. But I had dedicated this book to them, because parts of it were so difficult to write and they listened to my technical problems, gave suggestions and cheered me on through the whole thing.

They would not let me give up. I almost did. In fact I took a break and wrote a Christmas mystery. So that’s how the giveaway worked this year. I gave print and eBook copies to random people on Facebook and Twitter and print copies to friends and family. I gifted 16 books, which is something I also like to do. Every September, I give away a book for every year my blog has been live. I’ve been here since 2002. 16 years.

I still have one last blog birthday surprise. It is in the works as I write this, and won’t be ready to reveal until early October. I am so excited about this last surprise. I am bursting to tell you what it is but I’m going to hold off until it arrives. Stay tuned.

September Surprises

IMG_3263It’s September, which is the month, 16 years ago, I started blogging on this site. It continues to be such a joy to me and I love interacting with my readers. I have arranged with my publisher to put the Kindle edition (also Nook and ePub) of my new release Lily White in Detroit on sale for 99 cents. This deal is a very limited time offer.

I’m an avid reader and when I discovered I spent more than $200 in one month for e-books, I decided to put myself on a book budget. Now I look for those 99 cent deals, so if you do, too, this is for you.

I do have more surprises coming this month. I’ll be giving away free e-books and print editions from my backlist. I also plan to make at least one of my backlist permanently free, maybe on my website. Stay tuned for more September surprises.

 

15 Years

15 years ago this month I started this blog. Back then, I called it “A Writer’s Diary” as a  homage to the Virginia Woolf book of the same name, the one with all the writing related entries from her journals assembled by her husband after her death. I read Woolf and other writers’ biographies, memoirs, and even their collected letters. I read May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude” and Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast.” Pretty much anything writers had to say on their craft, I read.

The internet was pretty new then, or it was to me. I did belong to one fan group though, on Yahoo. Are there still fan groups? I don’t even know. Anyway, a fan started a group to talk about one of my favorite contemporary writers so I joined. I got really into it. Maybe a bit too much. I posted lots of writerly type comments, asking the other fan/writers questions or just getting something writing related off my chest. It was fun and a highlight of my day. Then it wasn’t anymore.

I know this about myself: sometimes I am too enthusiastic and I can get ahead of things. Always with good intentions, but some people don’t like it and if I try to leap over them, I stumble. This happened then and I left the group. I was telling my son about it while he was hooking up my new computer. Telling the story, I started to cry a little bit, which was embarrassing because I always try to be strong for my kids. I told him how stupid I felt about tears. It was a dumb fan group and the mean girls made me look bad in front of the famous author. Big deal.

My son was so sweet and sympathetic. He said “You should start a blog.” This was 2002. I said “Aren’t blogs over?” He laughed and said “No, they’re going to get a lot bigger.” And he set me up. He registered cynthiaharrison.com, found me a host, designed my first page and managed my blog for ten years. Eventually it grew into a website highlighting my blog posts.

I uploaded an entry every day of those ten years, usually about whatever novel I was working on, what was going good and what my problems were with the days’ pages, which editor from what publishing house was interested in a query. Who had rejected the current manuscript. It was raw data. I never edited those posts. Really, when I started blogging, nobody edited their posts and they weren’t meant to be polished pieces.

My first novel came out around that ten year mark and I realized my son had been exactly right. Tons of people were blogging about writing, some of them authors using their  websites as platforms for their work. The official word from marketing departments  was that writers should blog to keep their websites “live” and attract readers. Not every writer has a website, and not every writer with a website has a blog. But lots do.

After 2,519 blog entries, and ten published books, my blog is now occasional and only one part of the ever-expanding website. Barb of Bakerview Consulting (I found her five years ago on Twitter!) designed a site I love that reflects my pride in having become a published author as well as my new laid back approach to blogging.

Today I was having coffee with a friend who suggested I take a look at my blog posts. She believes there’s a book in here somewhere. I just sent my current manuscript off to my editor, and I don’t have a good idea for new novel yet. Maybe, like my son’s suggestion 15 years ago, this is something I can do.

Last Post

I just bought a home in a Florida beach town. I’ve lived in Michigan all my life except for a brief season in Key West when I was on the brink of twenty and recovering from a teenage marriage. I still live in Michigan, as my husband is not yet retired and I very much like living with him. But as Michiganders of a certain age sometimes do, we’re taking a second home to avoid the brutal winters.

Until I can convince Al to retire, he won’t be down south with me as much as I’d like. He does have several weeks’ vacation, so he’ll be there a good chunk of the time. Probably not in February where I will try to console myself with lots of writing time and feathering the new nest. Also a consolation: not having to cook all those suppers and shop for the vast quantities of groceries he makes disappear with alarming regularity.

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Still, I’ll miss him when we’re not together.

It feels really strange to have two houses in two states, but strange in a good way, like an exciting adventure. And as one adventure begins, another ends. After fourteen years and 2482 posts (!!!) this is my last one. I started blogging as a way to motivate, understand and identify myself as a writer. I was unpublished and wanted a place to hold the dream of one day being the author of books. So I did what I set out to do and made some good friends along the way. Thank you all for reading. Now on to the next adventure.

Magical 13

In September 2002, my son said these magic words “you should start a blog. I’ll set it up for you.” When I say “magic” I’m not exaggerating. I was a writer before 2002. I had even published a handful of poetry, short stories and book reviews in small literary magazines. But I was a novelist at heart, and that part of my writing career was going exactly nowhere.

Then came the blog. From the first day, I felt published in a way that was different. I wasn’t a published novelist yet, but I felt so close to that reality. It felt right around the corner. And blogging daily about my writing journey, about the novel I was working on at the moment and my attempts to find an agent or a publisher, kept that feeling front and center. I knew it would happen.

Lots of good things began happening almost immediately. I got a staff position at a prominent book review magazine, then another even better paying one. I wrote features too for print magazines and got paid. I blogged for free because I loved it, but being paid for my words in national print media validated me in a rock solid way. It was all part of a learning curve that would take me to the ultimate destination. I got the agent. I got the publishing contract. Along the way I blogged about it all.

Now as my 10th book is about to be published later this year, I know I owe it all to those fateful words my son spoke to me that long ago day. Blogging kept my eye on the prize and gave me the feeling of already being there. I can only look back with gratitude and thanks. As a thank you to my readers, I offer this special gift to one commenter.

unnamedI usually give away books on my blog anniversary, but this year I decided to go outside the box (which is where this cuff bracelet belongs, on your arm or the arm of your best girl). And you can still get free books because this magical year 13 is seeing a new milestone: AmazonEncore is re-releasing my Kindle bestseller Blue Heaven on September 15, next Tuesday!

Cynthia BlueHeaven Rerelease

To celebrate, I’ve joined a Facebook launch party with other AmazonEncore authors. All you have to do to win one of my books is show up between 6-6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time, when I will be hosting my half hour with chat and prizes. In my half hour I’ll be giving away several copies of the newly re-released Blue Heaven to commenters on the Encore Party Facebook Page which can be found here:

Link to event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1466958803630646/

I really hope to see you there or in the comments below so I can share some of this Magical 13th Anniversary deliciousness with you.