Wednesday, October 19, 2016

War Eagle 2016

We had a fantastic time at the War Eagle Craft Fair last weekend! It poured rain on Wednesday, and that made set-up a bit interesting. We managed to get our tent up between storms, but the field was super muddy and full of puddles. Fortunately, it only sprinkled on and off from there on out. Thursday was still muddy, but thousands of people turned out. The weather was beautiful on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Normally, we freeze until about noon. Not this year. If anything, it was a bit too warm for comfort. You never know what you will get with an outdoor fair. 

We tried a bit of a new set up this year, and I was pleased with the results. The display rack made the books more visible, and the signs on the canopy did a better job of advertising what we had to offer among the daze of booth and goods. Someone even suggested that I need a book about ghost cats and dogs. Hmmm. I'll add it to the list of books I'd love to write.

Zombie hoards or shoppers? Sometimes it is hard to tell.
This crowd is crossing over the bridge to the far side of the mill,
but just as many are waiting for their turn to come join us on the Sharp's Field side. 
Scott kept busy passing out bookmarks and getting folks to stop and say hi.
Hiro kept him company.

It is a long four days, and it helps to have wonderful neighbors. We were across from La Shay and her hand-painted decor again this fall. Besides the fact that her kids enjoy my books, she and her husband are just fun and entertaining when traffic gets slow at the end of the day. She is taking some custom orders this year, so you should check it out.

While the overall traffic was lighter this year, we still met some lovely new readers. Thank you to Luke, JoHanna, Tasha, Cade, Luke, Emerson, Ryan, LeeAnn, Laila, Witney, AnnaClaire, Miss Tori, Ashly, Heather, Rachel, Emily, Gavin, Lucas, Tyler, Sadie, Julia, Abbie, Vincent, Lyla, Averi, Cassie, Luke, Preston, Rachel, Alexander, Noah, Alexander, and Melanie, who went home with new books. And a special thank you to Becket, who went home with the whole Cats in the Mirror series, and Aryel, who now has all five of my children's books to enjoy.

I snapped this photo as a joke. I thought this Kimba toy was looking at me so sadly because no one had taken her home yet. Within a few minutes, a young man stopped in and bought her (along with a book) and had me sign the tag too. She went home with a very delighted friend.

What was really exciting was to have repeat visitors find our booth. One group was sent on a mission to get Vacation Hiro, and others were excited to get Slinky Steps Out as the new book this year. More than one child told me they have read Why Kimba Saved The World over and over. That is about the best compliment a writer can get. Yay!!

I'm also happy to announce the winner of the free Kindle Fire: Shonda from Red Oak, Texas. Congratulations, Shonda! She says that her daughter is already loving her copy of Why Kimba Saved The World. Outstanding!

Kimba helped me select the winner. At first, she was not terribly interested in all those slips of paper. It was nap time and all that.

But curiosity won out. She came down from her favorite perch and finally touched her nose to one. I pulled it aside, just to be sure. She agreed. "Yes. That's the winner."

Then, of course, she had to play in them for a bit. I didn't want to disturb her fun by trying to get a video, but she chased her tail on the pile and had a lovely time.

Everyone was a winner in Kimba's opinion.

While I was having lunch upstairs, I could hear her singing down in the office. Apparently, y'all met with Pooh Bear's approval as well, so she placed him on the pile.

Seriously. She did this. Adding Pooh to the mix means she is very happy. 

We have sold out of Slinky and Max toys, but more are on the way for my next event on November 12th at the Bella Vista Christmas Bazaar. I'm trying for at least one book event a month in 2017, and so far it is all falling into place. Except for January. The weather is too unpredictable to plan anything, and I'll be busy doing final formatting and editing on Dottie's Daring Day then anyhow, still on schedule for a February 1, 2017 release date. The cover reveal should be coming shortly, along with my fall newsletter. Don't forget to sign up here at my blog or at my website so you don't miss out on special Holiday sales.

Now I'm just hoping for more fall-like weather (what's up with this 80 degree stuff?) and getting Dottie off to the editor by the end of the month. Here's to campfires and hot chocolate and all the fun that the chilly weather has in store in the weeks ahead.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cuddlywumpus Cat Chronicles Review

Wonderful new review posted today from The Cuddlywumpus Cat Chronicles on Why Kimba Saved The World.

Joining the Cat Writer's Association introduced me to this blog, and it is adorable. Click on the link above and you can subscribe and see what other cat information Miss Cuddlywumpus has to share.

Over the weekend I attended the Ozark Creative Writers Conference here in Eureka Springs. Along with meeting some wonderful people, I went home with awards in the two categories I entered. One of those is a picture book manuscript that should maybe get some more attention and submissions!

The next few days are very full with final revisions on Dottie's Daring Day and compiling notes from my beta readers before the manuscript heads to my editor. Yes, I work as an editor, but that doesn't mean my work can't benefit from one. Kathy always finds things I missed and has great suggestions for little tweaks to make things better. A cover reveal should be coming at the end of the month as well. Exciting times! The goal is a February 1st release date.

We are also prepping and organizing to head to the War Eagle Fall Craft Festival. Tens of thousands of people converge on Northwest Arkansas over this long weekend for dozens of different fairs, and we are proud to be a part of it. You can find us in Sharp's Field Thursday through Sunday next to the War Eagle Mill and right across from the bridge.

Once we get all of that settled, my fall newsletter will be headed your way. If you want to get it directly, just add your email to my Reader's Group in the right hand sidebar. You'll get a free short story as well!

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Friday, September 23, 2016

5 Year Anniversary

I'm thrilled to be able to add this badge to my website and blog! If you write for children or illustrate for kid's books, you should certainly know about this great organization: Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Conferences and workshops that I have attended through the regional branches of SCBWI have been of great value and helped me hone my craft and fine-tune manuscripts in progress--not to mention the fantastic people you will meet. My membership renewal this month starts me on my 6th year of membership. Check them out. Join. Go to conferences. I highly recommend it.

Though I do more than write children's books, it is certainly the focus of most of my days right now. Because Max's Wild Night has been so popular, I moved up the release date of Dottie's Daring Day and shifted it ahead of the next cat book. My current plan is to have Dottie's book ready by February 1. When you consider what needs to happen before a book is ready for publication, that is just a hiccup away. My husband has already started his job as my first reader, and other beta readers will be on the task shortly.

Chapter One is printed out and being reviewed!

The cover designer and proofreader have me on their schedules, so it is forward full speed. October gets crazy with the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference and our long days at the War Eagle Craft Fair, but you can expect to see the cover for Dottie's Daring Day in late-October. Yay!

Now it's back to revising. As any writer will tell you, that part of the process doesn't end until you just run out of time. But I will leave you with this great new review for Why Kimba Saved The World. Reviews like this are what keep me going.

5.0 out of 5 stars Very clever!September 18, 2016
This review is from: Why Kimba Saved the World (Paperback)
I've never seen this style of writing before. Very clever. The narrator is inside the cat, Kimba's, head. The narrator never goes inside the humans' heads, or any of the other cat or dog characters. Very well-written. I am a grammar/proofreading nerd, and I was so pleased to not find one single error in this book! That is so rare these days. What a breath of fresh air reading something so well-written.

An easy read, and I won't post any spoilers except to say I will never trust my cats again when they climb up between me and my computer! ha ha ha

Loved this book. The descriptions of every character, the scenes, the rooms in the house, the outdoor scenes are excellent.

Kudos to Meg Welch Dendler. I can't wait to read her other books.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Self-Publishing Journey

At the fantastic Ozark Writers League conference on Saturday, I was part of a panel of self-publishing authors. We shared some basic information on how we go about the process and what we have learned. I actually wrote an entire blog series on my own self-publishing experiences over the winter of 2015. It is still posted at my old blog at my website, but for ease of reading and following (and as promised), I will post the whole thing here with weekly links so those interested can read about what I have learned so far as a self-publishing author.

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Write the best book possible

Week 3: Set your goals and expectations

Week 4: Publish your book like a professional

Week 5: Where to publish

Week 6: Live events & blog tours

Week 7: Book release and production scheduling

Week 8: Freebies, discount promotions, and KDP

Week 9: Wrap up to the series (bookstores, awards, and series writing)

The journey has certainly continued since then, but I think this series is still inclusive of the lessons I've learned as a whole.

I'd love to hear your thoughts or additions in the comments section so everyone can benefit from what you have learned as well.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Turpentine Creek's New Vet Hostpital

I had the chance to put on my docent hat yesterday to support the ribbon cutting at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge's new vet clinic. They have worked so hard and so diligently to make this a reality, and I was honored to be a part of it. Most months, it is enough for them to bring in donations that cover operating costs and food beyond what is donated by Tyson and Walmart.

Not having to transport a sick, injured, or aging animal many miles to the vet is so important. Those trips were not only hard on the animals but dangerous as well. What if there was a car accident and a tiger got lose? It almost happened once. The tens of thousands of dollars required to make this on-site clinic a reality was truly a monumental task. What it will mean for the care of the more than 100 big cats and bears in TCWR's care is even bigger.

Normally, the clinic would not be part of a tour at the facility, but yesterday it was open to the public. I was thrilled to see Chamber of Commerce members from Fayetteville, Rogers, Eureka Springs, Holiday Island, and many others that I didn't catch the names of coming with giant scissors to celebrate with us. I'd also like to give a shout-out to the Ghost Tours of and for volunteering to provide shuttle service down to the clinic from the parking lot. They kept everything flowing smoothly. I'd like to think my flight attendant inspired directions helped too. This way, please.

If you want to watch the ribbon cutting video and see a tour of the facility, just click on this link. You will need to be signed in to Facebook to see it. I didn't get to witness that part. I was still up in the parking lot making sure everyone found the shuttles and made it down there in time. Being a volunteer often means you miss the actual big moment, but that's okay. I was just grateful to see how many people showed up--I'm guessing around 200.

Here's my own personal photos of the event:

I overheard that this table can support a horse standing on it.
You don't really think about how heavy a tiger is, but that's a huge concern when they need veterinary care.

You know that scale you put your dog on at the vet? This is the giant version.

A very sweaty me with the amazing Emily, the curator, who has been with TCWR from almost the start.
She is the best friend an animal could have, and she's pretty cool with people too. 

Enclosures for receiving new animals or temporarily caring for those who need it. A wall in the middle slides back and forth the adjust the size or bring an animal up to the wall for shots and such with out having to sedate them.

Proof cats really do have bones, even though they move like this is impossible.

Thank you!!!!

A photo they have on the wall from an earlier surgery.
You really don't want that anesthesia to wear off!
I look forward to hearing the stories about how having the clinic on site helped with a particular situation. I'm sure the vet is grateful to have the right equipment and the ability to handle whatever comes up without the drama of transporting an animal to him many miles away.

Of course, once the tour was over, I had to go hang out at the refuge a bit. Health issues have kept me from my docent duties this summer, and I have really missed it. I hope I can get back to business shortly.

Selfie with BamBam. He's a character in Miss Fatty Cat's Revenge.
Elvis and Dillon, just snoozing the day away.
Bobcats, in case you can't tell.
I even got myself a little treat at the gift shop. I mean, how adorable is he?
I shall name him Thor after my lion buddy for many docent sessions.

Next up is the Ozark Writers League quarterly conference on Saturday the 20th in Branson. I'll be part of a panel on self-publishing at the end of the day. Come on by and say howdy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Life As An Editor

Working as an editor is normally a very quiet part of what I do each day. I rarely talk publicly about what I'm working on. Part of that is respecting the author's privacy, and another part is just how editing is as a profession. It's the behind-the-scenes job that makes a huge difference but stays under the radar of readers.

But last night I got this gift from Pen-L Publishing, and I just have to crow a little bit.

Duke and Kim presented me with a copy of each published book I have worked on with them since December of 2014--as an editor or a proofreader. There are six still in the process. Some of these authors have become friends through the magic of Facebook. Some have no idea who I am except as a correction or note on their manuscript.

Publishing a book is a LONG process, and I'm not including the original writing. Just the publication. It takes about six months for the editing and proofreading and formatting and cover design, even with an independent publisher. And the manuscript may well have been signed for publication six months or more before that and been waiting its turn in line. Then there's the process of getting reviews from places that demand advance copies. Publication may be delayed another six months while the author waits for places like Kirkus to review the book.

What I think authors don't really understand is how invested those of us behind the scenes become in their books during that time. I'm not the creator, the mama, but I certainly feel like a very devoted auntie. When a book is released into the world, it is like graduation day. It's hard to put into words, but I freely admit to getting a bit giddy when I hold a copy of a book I helped produce. I've even hugged a few of them. I know. I'm weird. But there it is.

It's not the same rush as holding that first copy of a book I've written myself, but it comes close. A story that I have spent hours and hours and hours reading and shepherding along is finally out in the world. Even if it's not my favorite genre, there is still a delightful rush and a sense of pride in knowing that an author--the vast majority of whom I've never met--is celebrating the publication of his or her book baby. I know how that feels, and I'm honored to be a part of it.

A very exciting part of the job that I never anticipated is that many of these authors are writing a series, and I have the chance to work with them on developing that on-going connection with their readers. A few have also trusted me with personal projects or manuscripts in the works. I know what it means to trust someone with my own books, and I'm honored.

I remember early on in my writing career having a discussion with my editor at a magazine about a particular article. I joked that those folks who win Pulitzer Prizes must have moved beyond needing an editor. She said that they probably won because they have an excellent editor. Touché.

And that's all for now because several manuscripts are waiting for my attention and love. Not to mention my own WIPs. Let's see how many book babies we can bring into the world in 2016!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Editing and Beta Reading

The dust has settled on "Leia's" high school graduation, and a summer agenda is now in full play. For her, that mean a few weeks of break before moving in to her dorm at the University of Arkansas. For me, it means the guest house business hits its stride for the season.

When "Leia" goes in for orientation in mid-June, I'm looking forward to beginning some on-foot research for Dottie's Daring Day, which will take place on campus in Fayetteville. I already have a pretty good sense of how the story will evolve, but I want to weave in actual locations on campus and need to be sure travel times are logical. I love the ideas I have gotten from meeting with students and asking them what a dog could get into on a day of freedom. A garbage can of some sort apparently must be in the mix somewhere. Specifics never fail to come to light when my feet hit the pavement and I can get a "dog's eye" view of the city. Maybe Dottie herself can join me to show me the best stuff.
If we can get her off the sofa, that is.

Of course this summer is a bit different since we have our home and the guest house up for sale. That puts a big spin on the rest of my normal activities. I won't be doing any speaking engagements all summer long and have kept those in the fall to a very few.

You can, however, join me on Saturday for my final talk of the season to the Springfield Writers' Guild in Missouri. Here's the Facebook link to the event. I have met many of their members here and there at other events and conferences, so I'm excited to be spending the day with them.

Another change in our summer schedule is that I am taking on more freelance work as a beta reader, proofreader, and editor. This isn't really new. I contract with Pen-L Publishing and have supported self-published authors in the past. But as we work our way out of the guest house business, I will be devoting more time to helping other authors prepare their books for either self-publication or presentation to publishing houses. My time on this front is limited right now, and I'm grateful to the authors who have already been in touch with me about working on their projects. You can find out more at the page devoted to this at my website. I am also exceptionally grateful to the authors who have provided references for me based on our work together. One even referred a friend to me. There is no greater compliment!

Summer time rarely leads to much worth blogging about. We pretty much put our heads down and get to work. I doubt you want to hear about loads of laundry and cleaning bathrooms -- until I write the book about all of the craziness, that is. Hopefully, this is the last summer I have to worry about those things. The time to move on has come, and we are excited to see who will take over this magnificent property in the Ozark mountains.

This could be your backyard.

I hope each of you has a blessed and love-filled summer!!