<![CDATA[Books By Deanna - BLOG: Selling Books]]>Sat, 17 Mar 2018 05:08:11 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:05:59 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7103371​Reading Aloud and Laughing Out Loud
Calla Being Read To...
​       I enjoy reading to the residents at Fidelia Eckerd Living Center on Tuesday mornings. I only read an hour and often at the end of the hour only one or two still have their eyes open. Sometimes a resident will just up and leave with their walker or wheelchair, to go to the bathroom and forget to return, or just leave to go somewhere different. But there are a few who stick out the hour, laugh at the appropriate time, or make an inappropriate comment whenever. It’s always a different experience. But because they seem so happy to see me, and gather with enthusiasm, I think they enjoy our story hour.
            I think their favorite part of the hour is having Buddy in their midst. He’s wandering around in the library when they arrive. Each one thinks he came to see them and each one gives him a warm welcome. He lays his head on laps and stands still between immobile legs to be petted. As the story commences he lays himself down on the floor in front of me where everyone can see him. Since I speak through a microphone, I’m not sure how anyone including Buddy, can fall asleep. The nurses have commented to me that many of them aren’t really sleeping. They are listening to the story with their eyes closed, relaxed by the tone of my voice, and the nearness of their friends.
            I’ve read a lot of different things for them. A few weeks ago, I tried some Bill Cosby and Erma Bombeck. They laughed and guffawed and remembered things from raising their families. We didn’t get too far in the books, but they enjoyed hearing about chocolate cake for breakfast and potato salad at the funerals and frozen diapers on the clothes line. We laughed a lot and reminisced. These are folks from my parents’ generation, and only one generation removed from me. We remember a lot of the same things.
            I love to see my mother laugh. She isn’t laughing at the story because she doesn’t hear it. She’s laughing because her friends are laughing out loud at something and she thinks they’re funny. I think she knows I’m reading aloud. She read aloud for years. I loved the sound of her voice reading to us. And we laughed out loud and probably made inappropriate comments, too.
            It’s not so much the story. It’s not the content that matters. It’s the time spent together, listening, laughing, and being. That’s what matters. Reading aloud to the family can never be replaced with electronic games or tv sitcoms and chaotic reality shows. Listening, even with closed eyes, engages every sense and energizes the imagination. It is relaxing; it’s never a waste of time. It’s a valuable gift.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 12 Mar 2018 11:30:21 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7661279Sunrise, Sunset
Our Granddaughter Halsey on her Dad's "Party Boat" at sunset on Chesapeake Bay
    In the last few weeks several of my fb friends have posted pictures of nostalgic moments with children and grandchildren who suddenly, before they knew it, grew up and out of childhood. When did that happen? Like Golde and Tevye, we ask: Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older; when did they? Sunrise, sunset; sunrise, sunset; swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears. Sunrise, sunset…
    I think the prettiest sunrise and sunset displays are here on the East Coast. The most consistently spectacular are on the coast of South Carolina. Beaufort even has a Facebook page where they post pictures of their daily sunrises. One must be up pretty early to catch the sunrise over there, before the day swiftly flows by! It’s so impressive and majestic the vision stays with me all day. The most beautiful and lingering sunsets in amazing colors are to be seen on Jekyll Island, Georgia, where the color often lingers until dark, as if to make that day last just a little longer.
    My most memorable sunset event occurred off the coast of Cape Charles, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore. We were on a pontoon boat in the Chesapeake Bay headed to play on a low-tide sandbar. Our granddaughter Halsey was five at the time, blossoming even as we gaze. She sat in her canopied director’s chair wearing pink Tevas on her feet, sunscreen on her nose, big sunglasses, and a visor. What words of wisdom can I give them? How can I help to ease their way? On the open water seeing the sun melting into the ocean, its descent is a visual experience. Halsey had done this so many times, she knew precisely when to begin her countdown.  She watched carefully, slowly raising her finger. Then it was time; she began to count. Ten, one thousand, nine, one thousand, eight, one thousand…like an egg yolk sliding across a greasy skillet, the brilliant sun, a huge orange orb, slid toward the water. She hesitated at one, finger in the air. “Now!” she proclaimed. And it was gone. The sky ignited into an aurora of orange, red, fiery yellows, and purple. Such a sunset pallet I’d never seen before, all across the watery horizon, as if a million suns had fallen and exploded over millions of miles. I’ll never forget that sunset, that moment. And in that memory, Halsey will forever be five years old. No matter how many sunrises and sunsets pass, I’ll always hold her in that precious moment. Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small? What is your most memorable sunrise, sunset experience? Write about it; so you’ll always have it.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 08 Mar 2018 12:40:10 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog3722003Ode to the Floor
Underfoot - The Floor's Story
    When I was a little girl I liked to sprawl out on the floor with my crayons and writing tablets. When I walked the two blocks to my grandma’s, taking crayons and tablets with me, mom always said, “Now, don’t be underfoot.” I thought that meant I shouldn’t lay on the floor. So, I colored at the table at Grandma’s house.
    Today, I’m thinking of things underfoot: the floors in our new old house. What stories that floor could tell!
    The oldest floor of the house is solid heart pine. It’s darkened with age and reluctantly divulges secrets of its past. It’s in pristine condition and only needs buffing. The newest part of the old house has pine plank flooring with wild graining prominent because the pith between the grains has worn away. It cries out for restoration.
    I see rusty iron foot indentations; I know a radiator once warmed this room. Did someone sprawl on the floor near the radiator with coloring books? Did crayons roll under the radiator to melt and leave that waxy ring on the floor? How many soft baby shoes began their walks through life on this floor? How many young housewives crawled on their knees mopping up after the families that walked here before us?  Did happy feet kick off their shoes and jitterbug to the music on the radio, twirling across the smooth heart pine? Where’s the corner where children were sent for their transgressions? Did they kick at the molding and scuff the floor in that corner while waiting to be released? Is the watermark in the front corner from a Christmas tree stand overflowing? Is that lighter square where the new-fangled television once sat in a console the size of the icebox with a screen the size of a goldfish bowl?  Perhaps the first room addition was to accommodate the viewing of that new television set. I find little threaded metal tubes poking up through the floor marking the birth of the worldwide network years ago. An obsolete wire, stapled to the molding, dangles through a hole in the floor, no longer connected to anything but the floor. How many people were on that party line, I wonder? She was an ancient edition of People Magazine known as “The Operator” and she knew who walked across this floor to answer that telephone. How many cards or letters marking life occasions dropped through the brass mail slot in the front door to land on this floor? Love letters, birthday cards, death notices, college acceptances, draft notices, all piled here on the floor beneath the mail slot.
    The floors in our new old house are being sanded and refinished. The heart pine will be beautiful; the pine planks will be renewed. Centuries of grime and joy will be removed but stories known only to the floor will remain. Talk to me, Floor. I want to know your three centuries of stories.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:38:47 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7669984Over the Rainbow
Sherwin-Williams Color Chart (Fan)
             I love colors; always have. My box of 48 Crayola Crayons was my dearest treasure as a child and the only thing I remember ever coveting was the bigger box. So I should be in hog heaven today. But instead I feel a bit overwhelmed, a bit over the rainbow. I’ve discovered Sherwin Williams has more colors than Binney & Smith, and who knew that was even possible? Did you know there are over 100 shades of WHITE?
            I’m here in my new old house with the color fan from Sherwin Williams in Edenton, trying to choose paint colors. The colors are riveted together like a big fan. When stacked and closed it’s 5 inches high! I’ve been looking at these colors all day. I’ve made definite, final, decisions. Six times! I’ve stuck the decisions on the walls of the rooms for oh, about 15 minutes; long enough to open the fan once more, second guess, change my mind, pull down the notes, and look some more. Now there are no decisions on any wall.
               It isn’t complicated, not really. Just about everything is some shade of yellow. But, in the world of color, in the Sherwin Williams kingdom, yellow isn’t really yellow. Today I brought in a daffodil from outside and tried to find the colors. The petals turn out to be SW 0073 Chartreuse. The center is called SW 6907 Forsythia. Well, at least that sounds yellow.
            I could change my palette to, say, blue. But there are more Blues than Chicago and Harlem put together. There’s no way to hurry this process. I’ll begin again in the morning with fresh eyes.
Some authors have told me they go through this with their characters. What color should her hair be? Will it matter? What color are his eyes? Is she going to care? Will skin tone be important to the story?
            We have to be careful when we pick and choose our colors, don’t we? When I return again to Edenton, we’ll see how well I did at selecting the colors in this story. The writing, uh, color will be on the wall.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 01 Mar 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8232278Stairway Renovation/ What’s blocking your progress?
Before Stairway Renovation
After Stairway Renovation
      I’ve always loved stairs. My grandma’s house, where I spent a lot of time growing up, had a large staircase where I played. I used to sort mail – old letters, magazines, scrap paper – and put it between the spindles and be the clerk. Every home Dave and I have shared (eleven, I think) has had at least one set of stairs. Our current home has two sets of stairs and I use them every day, several times a day. The laundry is on the first floor, we live on the second, and I write on the third floor.  I can’t imagine life without stairs. Our new old house has a stairway to the upstairs bedrooms and bath.
       The “problem” I have with these new old stairs is that they are enclosed. Except for the first three steps, then a door, the stair well to my writing room is blocked. I’m enough claustrophobic to know I’d avoid them; I need them open. Dave and Dawson sees that possibility. Then Dawson begins to see more: the original stairs probably were open, and closed in later, most likely during the fuel crisis in the 70s to save heating costs. The result of that is the first three steps have a different balustrade and pickets. The newel posts don’t match either. What’s the story here? Dawson is excited now to take down the wall and see what story this house will tell. It will add light to several places, invite guests to come on up, and return some grace and style that was probably originally there.
        I hear authors talking about their writer’s block: “I start out fine, then suddenly, it’s like a door, I can’t get past it. What should I do?”
         I can’t tell you what you should do; I can only tell you what I do. I open the door, take down the wall and let the sun shine in! There’s always more story. If you can’t work through the block, go around it. Skip a chapter, pick it up, and go back to it. I prefer to go straight through it, but not everyone is as bold and as hard-headed as I, so you must do it your way. Open the door, take it off its hinges, tear down the wall, move or remove whatever is keeping you from moving ahead. You will always find more story.
         When we took down that door and wall in our new old house, we found an enormous story, the discovery that the house was built in 1770. What a story that’s turning into! If we hadn’t torn down the wall and pulled that door down that was blocking our progress, we would never have seen the whole story. Don’t let those so-called writers’ blocks get in the way of your progress. Keep moving. 
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 26 Feb 2018 12:11:41 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog1934150Tragedy in Florida
    It was a sad week to be in Florida, one week ago. I can only begin to imagine being one of those parents. Even now they surely must wonder how the world can continue to turn without their child in it. How indeed? But, somehow, the world does turn, and life goes on, doesn’t it? The traffic still stalls at the intersection, the checkout line waits impatiently; obstetricians, school buses, and the UPS trucks make their deliveries. The flags fly at half-mast, the huge ones that can’t, wave long black mourning streamers from their finials mocking the cheerful blue sky. After every tragedy, we go on. We drag our sorrow along like a ball and chain, pack our sadness into our backpacks, and move forward grasping all the courage we can find. We must do this, or we hand a victory to Evil. Prime Minister Churchill said it: My dear people. We must carry on. We must. Carry on.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:30:21 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8838399The Weekend in Olustee
Frederick Douglass
    Olustee, Fl, is one of my favorite Civil War reenactments. I’ve blogged about the event before, so I won’t give you the history that’s covered at this event, but I’ll tell you what the weekend was like for this author.
      Friday was school day. Great weather.  Hundreds of kids. School days are an opportunity to get my information to teachers and interest the kids, but I don’t usually sell much. My sales were over the top all three days! But even better than the sales were things that happened.
       My earliest customer set the happy tone of the weekend. I knew she was a reader. She walked by, looked at my display and began to gravitate toward my table. She studied the covers, picked up a book, and read the back. Yep. A reader. Her finger rested on my name; she studied every wrinkle in my face. Then, suspiciously, asked, “Is this you?” Yes. “Did you write Cracks in the Ice?” Yes, I did. She threw herself into rapture. “Oh my gosh! That’s my favorite book in all the world. It’s the best book I ever read in my whole entire life!!” (7th grade.) She told me it was in the library of the school she formerly attended. Her new school doesn’t have it; she wished she could find it and read it again. “I couldn’t stop reading it. I couldn’t put it down. Mom said, ‘Riley, it’s time to take your shower,’ and I said, ‘I can’t because I can’t stop reading this book.’ She said I could have an extra 30 minutes if I stopped now, so I did and while I was in the shower she picked it up and started reading then she couldn’t put it down, either, and we had this big pretend fight over the book!” Hidden under the table is the subject of my last blog, the Sample Box. I pulled out Cracks in the Ice, signed it and gave it to her. She was so thrilled. “She loves to read,” her family said. And she recognized my name. What a nice thing.
       Here’s the fifth-grade gentleman: “You like to read?” “Oh, yes ma’am.” I launch into my spiel; he listens intently, nodding. At the conclusion I say, “I’m the author of the books and I’d be happy to sign one for you.” His mouth drops open. “You’re an Author?” Yes. “Oh, boy! I always wanted to meet a real author. I never met an author before. My name is Daniel Horowitz and I’m happy to meet you.” (He’s been pumping my hand since the ‘Oh boy!’) “Meeting a real author is on my bucket list! Wait here! I’ll be back with my grandpa.” He took off in a cloud of dust. The author sitting beside me is Dr. Edward Arnoff. He’s 80 years old. He laughs so hard, he nearly falls off his stool. He dries his eyes and says, “Maybe I should get going on a bucket list. You think it might be too late for me?” “Well,” I said, “that probably depends on what you want to put on the list.” He thinks about my answer then starts laughing all over again. Now we’re both out of control. “Get back to work!”
    A woman pulled out her wallet and showed me a picture of a sweet little baby. “She’s almost one now,” she said. “Last year we bought an Avery book from you here. You signed it “to Avery.” I told you my daughter was having my first grandchild soon and they were naming her Avery. This is her. My daughter took her Avery book with her into the labor room. It’s special to her.”
    Another mom told me her son was 20 now, and in college. Four years ago he bought the Avery books here at Olustee. When she told him he had to get rid of his stuff before he left for college he got rid of piles of books, but he said he needed to keep his Avery and Gunner books. Said he might have kids someday. “They were always his favorite books,” she said.
    The customer with the cotton candy stuck in her hair: “Look at her, Mom! She’s a real author!” Many weekends like this one, and I will start to believe that myself.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 19 Feb 2018 13:49:38 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog8028875The Sample Box
The Empty Sample Box
   I've seen pictures of the horse-drawn tinker's caravan with his samples displayed, rattling down the road. I remember the door-to-door Hoover salesman, the Encyclopedia salesman, and the Jewel Tea truck. My mother couldn't afford them, but she never turned them away. "They're just trying to make a living," she'd say. I know, I'm dating myself. But, I wonder if they were my mentors in marketing?
   Since 2010, when I began marketing my books, I've learned how important those salesman's samples are. There are always samples on the display table of whatever I'm selling at the moment, but one never knows the opportunities beyond that moment. I always carry business cards, publisher's catalog and a protective plastic tote with every title in every format, just-in-case.
   A few years ago I stopped at a diner in rural Georgia for lunch and discovered they had a children's reading corner for their little diners. I brought in my sample box and he bought every picture book I had. 
   When I drive through a small town and spot a bookstore, I go in, introduce myself with a card and ask if they'd like to see what I have. They are usually pleased that I've stopped, sometimes buy some books, but promise to look for the titles with their distributor. I give them a publisher's catalog and they are overjoyed. Small indie booksellers don't get a lot of attention.
   Last week in Ponte Vedra, FL, my hostess drove us to do some shopping. She was surprised to see a brand new store called 2nd & Charlie's. At first we couldn't tell what kind of store it was -- games, puzzles,electronics --books! Old and new in all genres, it was a bookstore! My sample box and cards were in my own car back at her home. But, we went in and met the manager. He laughed at my predicament and was delighted I came in. We exchanged information and he planned to go on line and see what my publisher had and check my site for other titles. 
   At the event on Saturday in Olustee, FL, I slipped my sample box under the display table, just in case. Early in the day a woman popped up and said she wanted one of everything I had, which was 3 YA Civil War titles. She said it was for her school, so I gave her a different card that has the younger titles on it, and a catalog. "Do you have any here?" I started to say no, but then, "as a matter-of-fact, I do!" She emptied my sample box, bought all 16 titles.
   I'm thinking of renaming my sample box to my "Just-in-Case" box. My tip for authors today is never leave home without it.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Thu, 15 Feb 2018 08:00:00 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog7952540A Second Pair of Eyes
Another Pair of Expert Eyes
        Continuing our comparison of editing and restoration, I notice yet another similarity: the need for another set of eyes. No matter how practiced we are at spotting editing oversights on other people’s works, it’s easy to fail to see our own. We know what we wanted to say, and that’s what we read. We all need editorial services for works-in-progress prior to submission.
            Blogs, as you might expect, sometimes slip by scrutiny as they are frequently written and immediately delivered, unlike a work-in-progress that has months to be fine-tuned and seen by other eyes. I prefer to write blogs in advance to have time to edit, but that doesn’t always happen as the miniblog can be a journal in real time that I expect to edit after the posting.
            Dawson is an expert at what he does, which is historical restoration. But, he doesn’t hesitate to call in another pair of eyes making sure he doesn’t overlook any detail and to authenticate any discovery. Quick to ask for second opinions and humble enough to hear them, authors should be that careful and receptive.
<![CDATA[Mini-Blog]]>Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:14:06 GMThttp://booksbydeanna.com/blog-selling-books/mini-blog2015914An Indiana Jones Moment
Late 1700's Beam Exposed During Renovation
​            Sometimes researching the background of a story leads to surprising or amazing discoveries never envisioned. History is like that; full of hidden secrets. I remember years ago researching Civil War Soldiers’ Recreation and discovered Abner Doubleday, as an officer, visited the very hospital Avery and Gunner, my characters, were working. What a wonderful surprise! I imagine every history writer can tell of at least one memory when they shouted, “What? No way! Yes! I didn’t know that! It’s going to be a chapter!”
            Something like that happened last week on our restoration project. When I last posted, Dawson was working on the “middle passage” becoming a library. He was in the process of widening a single doorway into a double doorway and pulling off the wall. When the plaster settled, there before his eyes was an incredible, exposed beam. He knew in an instant he’d discovered something unexpected. The construction technique, wooden nails, heart timber too dense for termites, this beam and others like it, have supported the house built in 1770. Dawson must have felt like Indiana Jones. He called us, of course, but was almost too excited to talk. Historians are at the courthouse now trying to uncover the secrets of our tract. What we know for certain is that the John R. Wheeler House of the 1900s is not the original structure, but a modernization facade built over the top of a much older building. Dawson wonders if it will turn out to be an ancillary building of the plantation whose house is about a current block or two away. Perhaps it was a provision house, a store; perhaps Revolutionary soldiers were garrisoned there. Did George Washington sleep here?
            Dawson is framing the doorway using the lovely old molding. But one old beam will be left exposed. “It’ll be a great conversation piece,” he says. Y’all need to come and see it.