IWSG — Book Awards! And October Question of the Month

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here. insecure-writers-support-group-badge

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I know there are quite a few book award contests out there, and I’ve often wondered if it’s worth the upfront cost to enter them. Sometimes it feels like throwing money down the drain. If you don’t win or place, you have nothing to show for the investment.

And are all those contests really legit? Or are some of them created by unsavory characters preying on authors desperate for any recognition that will lift their books up out of the ever-widening sea of published novels? And if the contests aren’t big name like, for example, the Hugo Awards, will readers be influenced to buy your book if you do win?

I don’t know the answers to the first two questions, but I’m about to find out the answer to the third one. I received notice a few days ago that my first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, won a Finalist award in the Independent Publishers of New England Book Award contest I entered a while back. Whoo, hoo! I’ll be going to the IPNE fall conference in New Hampshire on October 21st and 22nd to accept the award and hopefully do a book signing, and just enjoy the conference. It will be interesting to see if the award and the publicity surrounding it have any effect on sales.

What experiences have other authors had with book contests? What ones did you enter? If you won or placed, what happened then? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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And now for the October IWSG question:

When do you know your story is ready?

My basic rule is that if I can read through my story without tinkering or making any edits, it’s ready. Of course, this is after it has gone through the necessary revisions and professional editing. But if I can read through it and not find anything that feels just a little off, and if everything reads smoothly without any wording that trips me up, it’s done.

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And Don’t Forget the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Last year’s contest was science fiction — parallel world/alternate history — and the result was Parallels: Felix Was Here. This year, there’s a new theme and all members are invited to submit.

 Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter — blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

 Word count: 3000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain’s redemption, a hero’s lack of confidence, a hero’s lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

 Deadline: November 1st, 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

 Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

I can’t believe July is almost over. The summer is flying by way too fast. I have some great things to celebrate this weekend:

  1. A book-selling opportunity at the Bookstock Literary Festival in Woodstock, VT, this Saturday!
  2. My son’s birthday on Sunday!

And here are some pics from my Barnes & Noble book signing last weekend. I sold 8 books to family and friends and a few walk-in customers. Thank you!!

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And this is what my kids were doing.

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What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

It’s been another busy week. Things I’m celebrating:

  1. A good friend’s birthday party coming up on Saturday!
  2. My Barnes & Noble book signing on Sunday!
  3. Swimming at the beach! The water level was really low, but we were still able to swim around and cool off.
  4. Driving go-karts! My daughter is really nervous about driving and taking Driver’s Ed. this fall, so she’s getting some practice beforehand in go-karts. Makes my son pretty happy, too. He loves the karts.

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

My biggest celebration this week is that I was able to set up a book signing at Barnes & Noble for Book 2 on Sunday, July 24th! The funny thing is that it’s the exact same date I did the book signing there last year, just a different day of the week. Crossing my fingers that it will go well!

I’m also celebrating that I’ve begun the Herculean task of cleaning out my basement. It’s full of almost 17 years’ worth of accumulated stuff. I’ve been wanting to do it for the longest time, but sentimental indecision over what to get rid of and what to keep has kept me from dealing with it. I need to do it, though. It may take me a while, but I’ll get through it.

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Barnes & Noble and Bookstock

What a crazy time these last several days have been, running around advertising, trying to get everything together for the big events, and trying not to get too stressed out over them.

Barnes & Noble was up first on Friday night from 6 to 7 pm. IMG_4551A

I had a case of nerves ahead of time and stressed over last-minute things. Once the event started, though, I calmed down. About a dozen people came throughout the event, all friends and family (thank you!!!), which gave it a much more relaxed atmosphere and helped me not to be as nervous. I sold 8 books, and it was fun signing them. The store wasn’t busy, and I don’t think anyone came to the Marvel Fangirl event that was supposed to run after my event. It was a nice night weather-wise, so I imagine most people were out enjoying it. It may not have been a packed house, but it worked for me, getting my feet wet for the first time. It was a great experience.

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When setting up the event, I had the choice of sitting near the front of the store at a table and just being available to sign books or using the event space on the second floor to have a book discussion, in addition to the book signing. The event space was an open space on one side of the selling floor with a podium and chairs set up for an audience. I decided to go with the latter and have the discussion. I’ve heard that straight book signings can be awkward, and I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured into buying my book. I also thought a discussion would be a better way to engage potential readers and get them interested in the book. I don’t know if it was the right choice or not, but it seemed like the right one at the time.

 

BookstockAd_July2015The Bookstock Literary Festival was another interesting experience, even though I didn’t sell any books. I manned the League of VT Writers table to promote books by League members, including my own. Part of the reason for no sales, I think, was the location of the table. The festival organizers had canopy tents set up along a walking path on the green. The tables that fronted the walkway got a lot of business, but those around the sides didn’t get as much traffic. The LVW table was on the side and also toward the back, close to the used book sale tent. By the time the people got to our end of the green, they saw the big “Book Sale” sign and made a beeline for that tent. In their defense, I probably would have done the same thing, though I would have gone back and checked out the places I’d missed afterward. Oh, well. I’ll have some good feedback to give them about the experience, anyway.

On to the next event!

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

Observing a Book Signing and Panel Discussion

On Saturday afternoon, I attended a book signing/release event at Barnes & Noble for the novel, Stella Rose, by Vermont author Tammy Flanders Hetrick. I’m hoping to get a chance to do a similar event at B & N and wanted to know what to expect. Hetrick only spoke for ten minutes or so, which I thought was surprisingly short. I arrived a few minutes late, unfortunately, and didn’t get to hear the bulk of her speech. She then opened up the floor to questions. The question/answer session lasted much longer, running 20 to 25 minutes. Afterward, the audience formed a queue, and she signed copies of her book and chatted with everyone.

She had a good crowd of 30-40 people. The majority appeared to be family, friends, and coworkers who had brought friends with them. They provided a great support group, very upbeat with a lot of engagement and laughter, and I think their positive energy and the size of the crowd drew in other shoppers to see what was going on.

Hetrick wore a nice, colorful dress and looked professional. She had swag laid out for people to see — T-shirts, mugs, and bookmarks, along with her business cards. Some of the T-shirts and mugs were given away as door prizes to those who had come from the farthest distance and those who had brought the most friends with them.

The entire event lasted an hour or so, with friendly conversations lingering afterward. I wasn’t in the market to buy one of her books right then, so I didn’t go up and speak with her, but just observed from the fringes. What’s that called in social media — lurking? 🙂

In contrast, on Monday evening, I went to my local library for a panel discussion by three Vermont authors, J.P. Choquette, Bill Schubart, and Steve Delaney, on their books and self-publishing. The event was scheduled to run an hour and a half, and for the first third of the program, I was the only one in the audience. As disappointing as it likely was for the authors, it worked out well for me, because I got to ask tons of questions and gather some incredibly useful information and resources. Another lady came in part way through, and the two of us kept the discussion going until it was time to leave.

The panelists dressed in nice casualwear and brought copies of their books and business cards. They didn’t have any other swag, and I wondered if it was only considered appropriate to bring those types of items with new releases? Or can you bring the T-shirts, bookmarks, etc., to any event?

I’m really glad I had a chance to go to these events and see what I might be getting myself into in the future. And even though the second event was much more low key and less likely to be considered a success, I learned a valuable lesson from it. It’s okay if not many people show up. Sharing your knowledge and experiences from your writing journey with just one interested person can be as satisfying as sharing it with many. The sister- and brotherhood of writers is amazingly generous when it comes to helping their fellow writers along. Of course, that part I already knew.

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Book Signings, Promotion, and Marketing, Oh My!

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here. IWSG_Badge

Now that my book is finally published and I’ve done some online promotion with a blog tour, I need to think about doing promotion in person. Both the local independent book store, which is carrying my book, and the local library, which has also agreed to stock my book, host meet the author/book signing events if I want to schedule them. I know I should do this, but the idea scares me half to death.

How do other introvert writers handle this sort of thing?

 

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2015. All rights reserved.