I wondered if I should really go. It was State Fair Week at my destination, and hotel rooms were not readily available; those that were cost $100 instead of my normal $50. The weather report looked ugly. This was 6.5 hours of mountain driving, and was going to be an expensive trip. Would I be able to sell enough books to even cover one night? I prayed about it and stopped worrying; let it go. Saturday morning, 8 am was overcast, the fog hung low in the mountains of West Virginia, but Civil War reenactments don’t cancel for rain. It was cold and I put on my bonnet, Sontag, shawl and sat at my table, trusting it wouldn’t rain. The camp was very quiet. Nine o’clock , ten o’clock, no one came. I still believed I was supposed to be there. Eleven o’clock, noon; no one around. I’m really cold, Lord. Should I go home? Should I save $100? Then between one and three I sold 24 books. Saturday’s breakfast was a hotel free breakfast. Lunch was free from the camp cook. Supper was a complimentary barbeque for re-enactors. I sold 26 more books and spent nothing on food at all. Sunday it was raining when I got up. I punched in the address of nearby St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church for nine o’clock Mass. Gladys Arlien, my GPS, took me on an amazing sightseeing tour of West Virginia hill country, and when I finally pulled up to the church, the Mass was at eleven. I put in my devotional CD and drove back to camp in a mist that looked like it really wanted to be rain. ....
Somerset, New Jersey: CWG/CMN Trade Show
August 2013: I love going to this conference. It’s like going on retreat. We begin the days with rosary and Mass with wonderful homilists and beautiful music. A procession through the hotel from the ballroom, our “church,” over to the conference center where a small chapel awaits the exposition each day. Surprised hotel guests watch the procession. Confession, adoration, benediction, all of it! Prayer at the opening of each presentation reminds us we are there at Our Lord’s bidding to do His work. Wandering around the selling floor is like a trip to a Catholic Disneyworld. Wonderful art work, books, and religious articles as well as booths from publishers, and service industries are everywhere. The CWG has a booth where three of my books were among the nice display of books carrying the Seal of Approval of the Catholic Writers Guild. I had a book signing for one hour, took my turn at working the booth, and learned from the experts about social media and the publishing industry. As always, I came away with some new friends and feeling energized about my work.
A Surprise Invitation
An emailed invitation from CSLA, the Church and Synagogue Librarians Association, was a complete surprise. They were holding their annual conference at Lake Junaluska, one of my favorite places in North Carolina. I’d never heard of CSLA.
Eight authors were invited to create table displays and address the group of librarians for two minutes each. A different group was invited for each day of the conference. I brought a sell sheet with the information I thought librarians would need, gave my spiel in one minute and entertained Q & A at my table. Several books left that afternoon with librarians and would end up in church and synagogue libraries in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and other states.
The chairperson in charge of the authors was from Pennsylvania. I asked her how she found us Carolina authors. She searched the internet and found the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) then narrowed her search and found ACFW Southeast, then finally ACFW Carolinas. She discovered the members and sent invitations to us. Several declined, she said.
When I look at my expenses and how many writers organizations I subscribe and belong to, I wonder if those memberships ever benefit my business in any real way. Now I’ve learned they do. I’ve just earned back this year’s ACFW dues and then some!
Professional organizations and their acronyms are more than a list in our query or cover letter, more than decoration on an email, business card, or to impress friends on facebook and Linked in. They are a real connection, a pipeline into the world we’ve chosen to live in, the literary world. Keep your memberships up to date and stay connected. You never know when someone may go searching to find something that turns out to be you!
Denton, Texas - Lexicon Conference
My writer illustrator friend Steve Daniels was excited about a conference he was going to in Denton, Texas, and insisted I go. Steve designs covers for some successful authors who are part of the LexiCon organization. These guys are all about supporting each other, supporting small presses, and promoting books and their authors. He sold me on the idea of attending. In July I fIew to Dallas. It was 68-75 degrees in our town, raining every day but still beautiful in our temperate rain forest. Dallas hadn’t had rain since May and it was 104 degrees. But, Steve was right about all of it and it was definitely worthwhile attending LexiCon 2013.
The president, Mitch Haynes, had arranged book signings in town at Barnes and Noble for published authors. I had a wonderful time, 2-5 Saturday, sold a lot of books, and the store decided to carry all my books. That alone was worth the trip! But there was much more.......
Spring 2013 was the first time I’d attended the Blue Ridge Bookfest at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, NC. It’s a very nice annual event, laid out well and well-promoted. It’s two days, thirty juried authors, and a free event. It was well attended and I enjoyed being one of the selected authors. I bought a couple of really good books there, signed by the authors. These are books I can, and will, recommend: Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash is excellent. Stand Up That Mountain by Jay Erskine Leutze is like The Pelican Brief of the Blue Ridge. I loved it! There’s a reason North Carolina is called the “Writingest State,” you know.
I made a little tag with an organdy ribbon to hang on the corner of the 11 X 17 poster for Cracks in the Ice, saying Selah Award Finalist. Someone leaked ......
I adore Fredericksburg, Virginia. I’d go back in a heartbeat. I walked the streets of the old historic town, marveling at the historical markers on the fronts of the buildings, many of which date to 1700’s, still in use. Same brick! One is a cupcake house. Yup. A houseful of cupcakes. That’s all they sell, cupcakes. I giggle thinking about it and saying that happy word: cupcake. I think I’ll write a picture book about the Cupcake House.
I found a great children’s bookstore....
Plymouth and Edenton
I took a picture of the Lighthouse on the Roanoke River in Edenton. Then I took another in Plymouth that claimed to be the same thing. I asked at the museum in Plymouth and I was told this story. Nearby Edenton is like the “city cousin,” a bit upscale, more B & B’s, more tourists. So Plymouth decided to spruce up their historic old lighthouse as a tourist attraction. They had fundraisers, got everyone involved and excited. Then they discovered a man was living in it. He’d bought it from the city years ago and lived like a hermit in the lighthouse. The court said it was his. So the town decided to use some of the renovation money ......
Old is New and New is Old
Plymouth, North Carolina, is a quaint sea coast town situated on the south bank of the Roanoke River. Because of
its prominence as a shipping center, Plymouth was the site of much contention during the Civil War. The confederate ram “Albemarle” was sunk here in 1864 on the Roanoke River. I heard about this reenactment the last time I was at the Museum ......
Learning About Cashiers in Honea Path
Following our trip to St. Louis last spring, it was a full month before I went to another reenactment and I seemed to have slipped out of the groove. Coming to Honea Path, South Carolina, I forgot my pajamas, forgot my reenacting shoes, forgot my collar, forgot to record mileage, left my charger at home. It’s okay, I got through it.
My first impression of The Battle of Anderson in Honea Path, SC, was “what have I gotten myself into now.” First impressions are often incorrect and this was one of those times. This was a lot of fun; I learned some real stuff, sold a lot of books, made some new contacts. The weather was absolutely perfect both days. I’ve learned to never prejudge a venue; you just never know.
I might have actually broken even this time, with South Carolina low gas prices, inexpensive lunch, only drove 288 miles, hotel was only $50 a night. I might even have made a profit!
I met a wonderful horse, Dixie Chic, who is so sweet and loving,.......
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Deanna lives in the mountains of western North Carolina. She belongs to a local bookclub, SCBWI, Catholic Writers Guild, ACFW, NCWN and other writing groups.