Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Author becomes the Marketer

It's true. One of the hard facts of publishing now days is that no matter if you're published by a firm or self-published, the author is responsible for a lion's share of the marketing of a book. I have learned that the term for this is "flogging" a book. I'm not sure where this term originates, as I am completely new to this.

The good news is that in a little over six weeks since my book has published I have sold 38 copies! The bad news is that virtually every one of those copies has gone to someone I know. BUT that is all about to change, for just yesterday I learned that So Faithful a Heart is now available for purchase on both Amazon and Ebay! This will greatly increase my market and since Ebay accepts PayPal and ships internationally (a feature that is not offered for my book on Amazon), that means that my market has expanded tremendously!

In the meantime I am looking for reviewers for my Amazon page. If you have read So Faithful a Heart and have an account on Amazon.com, I would be most grateful if you would go there and write a review. The more the merrier and the more recognition it will get!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our White Christmas, 2009

Our little cottage in Christmas Eve snow!

Looking through the wreath on the front door.

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The humble plight of the Ugly Chicken

Back in the mid 1970's, when I was a teenager, my mother went out and purchased a whole box full of unpainted ceramic Christmas tree ornaments and all the paints, brushes, and supplies that we would need to paint them. There were all kinds of ornaments - cute little mice perched upon Christmas packages, stockings, candy canes, manger scenes, stars, etc. However, among all of these cute and whimsical ornaments, was a plain, ugly, chicken which never got chosen to be painted.

My mother, brother, and I, all three, spent many leisurely, creative hours, painting ornaments, and by Christmas, we had quite a collection of ceramic ornaments to both hang on our tree and to give away as gifts. And as the supply of unfinished ornaments would begin to dwindle, Mother would go out buy another batch for us to paint.

One day, when I was rather bored, and needed something to do, I got the box of unpainted ornaments down and found that the supply had dwindled to only a few of the least favorites, so I decided to finish them up. Among the few, was the ugly chicken, which no one ever wanted to paint. There were only about five or six left, so one-by-one I painted the remaining ornaments, leaving the chicken for last. When I finally got to it, I decided that I would do the best I could with it and when I had finished, I decided that he was still every bit as ugly after I painted him, as he was before. When everyone saw that I had painted him, they laughed about how ugly he still was but they decided that he deserved a place on the tree.

From that year on, he was given a special place on the Erwin family Christmas tree, in the very back, on the very bottom branches where no one could see him. Even after I was grown and would bring my own family back home for Christmas, I would look for the ugly chicken, and there he would be, hanging on the very bottom branches, in the back of the tree.

In June of 2001, Mother passed away after a long and arduous battle with breast cancer, and my dad decided to sell the house that had been our family home since 1967.  My mother loved holidays and Christmas was her favorite of all, and as a result, there was an abundance of Christmas decorations -garlands, wreaths, stockings, ceramic angels, Santas, elves, and tree ornaments that had been collected and saved from my brother, sister and my early childhoods. Dad went through each box of Christmas decorations and divided them up, giving some to my brother and sister, as well as to me, and when I opened the box that contained my share of the decorations, I found that among the many ornaments, I had been given my mother's treasured Hallmark rocking horse collection, the little wooden angels that I brought back from my European travels, and several of the ceramic ornaments that I had painted as a teenager, including the ugly chicken.

So now the tradition continues: The ugly chicken has had his special place on Steph's and my tree since Christmas of 2001, in the very back, bottom branches. And every Christmas as we unpack the ornaments, my kids ask me if we still have the ugly chicken.  Two Christmases ago, when Lauren was in France as an exchange student, I was talking to her on Skype and telling her that we had put up the Christmas tree, and she asked if we had hung the ugly chicken.  She was obviously comforted by the fact that though she was far away from her family, the family traditions remained firm, and that when she returned home by the next Christmas, she would find that the ugly chicken still had his humble but honored spot on the family Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The first book signings and a sense of accomplishment

Thursday afternoon, while I was at work, I received a very excited email from Steph, announcing that the first big shipment of So Faithful a Heart that was ordered in a group order had arrived!  When I announced it at work, one of my co-workers exclaimed, "Ooooooh! Go home and get them!" Since our little house is only blocks from where I work, I did as she suggested and picked up the books that had been ordered by several of my co-workers and took them back to the office. There I signed them and passed them out to those who had purchased one. Then on Thursday evening, I sat down after dinner and signed the remaining copies.

Last Sunday evening we had our dear friend, Dr. Allen Scott (who was the chair of my graduate committee when I was in graduate school several years back and has since become one of our dearest friends and is like family to us), over for dinner. It was Allen, who when he saw my passion for the subject, suggested that I do my graduate thesis on Nancy Storace and her relationship with Mozart. If it hadn't have been for Allen's insight and observations so many years ago, this book probably would never have happened. When I handed him a copy of the book, he beamed with pride for his former student, and asked, "So how did it feel when you held it in your hands for the first time?" I told him that it was indescribable. "There's a sense of  personal accomplishment that I've never sensed over anything else in my entire life!" He just smiled, and said that he was really proud of me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009