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.

Empty Seats & Other Fears

ceremony_003

The first time I walked into a classroom and realized that my job was to talk to these teens, every cell in my body wanted to run from the room and never return. And things stayed that way for a few years. Every day, I wanted to flee home to my writing room. Every day I did the harder thing. I taught those kids.

That was 1990. This is now. I handle English classes with ease, but any other type of public speaking makes me wish I’d popped a Xanax. Which brings me to next week and the dozen or so peers who I’ll be helping navigate the social media world. I’m no expert, but my love of Twitter has compelled me to learn its landscape.

Once again, for the love of language, I am putting myself in a place of massive personal discomfort. I’m not alone in my fear of the podium. More people fear public speaking than dying. This did not surprise me when facilitator Linda Anger said it yesterday in her public speaking workshop. I took the DWW workshop because I want to banish this fear.

As a writer who is trying to market her own novels, public speaking could be a big wand in my magic bag of tricks. I did it with my first book, back in 2007. Twice. To an audience who was way more interested in what I had to say that my students ever were. But my first book was non-fiction, about writing. My audience was hungry for answers. I filled the seats both nights, they all bought my book, they had questions galore. In other words, a dream audience.

Since then, I’ve published four novels. I did not line up any coffee shop/bookstore/library readings. Not a one. I’ve read so many horror stories about bookstore signing where one person shows up, only to ask where the restroom is located. Yesterday, Linda asked those of us in the workshop why we were afraid. My reason was easy: boring others. I teach English to jaded freshman college students who do a lot of covert texting and not quite so sly eye-rolling.

I fear boring you. I fear being judged. I fear you will judge me boring. I hide behind my blog and Twitter and call it marketing. My husband comes home from work and asks what I did all day. “Well, I wrote for a bit, then I did some marketing.” In fact, Twitter is not marketing for me.  I like making connections with writers and readers and other people, exploring links, trying to squeeze a cogent thought (plus a hash tag)  into 140 characters.

As for this blog, I’ve always kept a diary. All my life since the time I could write. And this blog is actually my diary. I write it for the same reason I write everything, to make sense of my place in the world. Every novel is a life I didn’t lead. I travel far and wide in my imagination, but I don’t leave the desk for marketing.

Real marketing includes hitting the streets of the real world. And after the helpful and fun workshop yesterday, I feel more prepared to do this. At some point in the future. If I don’t die first.

The Mighty Book Blogger

Ali.IMG_20130813_215553

Visit “A Woman’s Wisdom”

Before Twitter and Facebook, I read blogs like other people read the newspaper. Now, not so much. I might click on someone’s blog from Twitter, but my blog roll gets way less attention than it used to…except when it comes to book bloggers. There are so many good ones, and they help me sort out a good indie read from those that don’t make the cut.

I met book blogger Bodicia when she reviewed two of my novels, Blue Heaven and The Paris Notebook. These are both small press releases from The Wild Rose Press. I thanked her and after she reviewed The Paris Notebook, we continued our email conversation, and I became a firm fan of her blog.

“A Woman’s Wisdom” does more than blog about books. There are special mentions and guest posts. Always smart and funny people. Bodicia also posts her own musings. She’s fun to read. Her prose pulls you into her house, sits you at her kitchen table, sipping tea while she  chats about this or that.

While Bodicia is the book blogger I know best, there are others who do a fair and honest job of reviewing indie reads. I like imagining  a whole world of book bloggers out there, working away to make our indie reading pure pleasure.

Please Mister Postman

fall.dirt.photoI’ve been waiting patiently. Almost missed my BFN’s (best friend neighbor) birthday surprise. But, just in the nick of time, Mr. Postman came through. I live in a tiny town and everyone except me knows him by name. I think it’s Ron.

Love my dirt road even though Al refuses to wash my car anymore because I can’t help but drive down it. All the bright scarlet maple leaves have blown away after a windy storm, but’s it’s still so pretty.

I can’t get used to the fact that this is my town. And that these are my books. Every dream I’ve ever had and a few I never even considered has come my way. Well, there’s just one more thing. (There always is.) I want to finish and publish the book I’m working on now. It will happen. Just like everything else did, in its own good time.   print.books

After the books came, I quickly signed and wrapped a copy of Blue Heaven for BFN Jan. Her birthday was yesterday. We were both in the middle of cooking dinner, but I turned everything off for a sec and ran across the back yard to hand it to her. She took it and felt it and said “Is this your new book?” Jan has been reading my books since they were just manuscripts on typing paper. In fact, she read a few that were so bad I recycled them instead of trying to mend and publish. So of course I gift her my print books, even though she really needs a Kindle! In answer to Jan’s question, I said “You’ll have to open it and find out,” and then flew back across the yard to my own kitchen.

Another thing happened the same day the books came. I got an email from a fellow DWW member who invited any of us interested to take part in a book fair. So, I had bought these books pictured above as gifts for family and friends and now I am taking them to a book fair. Better get a new order in soon. And those of you who won my 11th Blog Birthday package, I will get the books out to you Monday. Better send my mom one, too. After I find the page with the consummation scene and warn her not to read it:)