NJASL 2019

My last book event for 2019 is now behind me. It was the annual New Jersey Association of School Librarians conference, this year held in East Brunswick. I normally only go for one day of the event, but as it was relatively close to me, I decided to do both days.

I love hanging out with fellow authors and chatting with the many dedicated librarians who come to the conference. I always learn something and feel buoyed by being with people who love books as much as I do!

We share tables at this conference, and this year I had a different partner each day. On Monday I sat with Suzanne Morris, a debut picture book author, whose book A Trapezoid Is Not A Dinosaur! is both a book about shapes and an engaging story about trying to fit in and being accepted for who you are.

On Tuesday I sat with Laurie Morrison, middle grade author of Every Shiny Thing and her new book Up For Air. (As an aside, I have Morrisons in my recent ancestry, but I don’t think we are connected.) We spent the first few hours trying to figure out why we both thought the other one was familiar. Finally, the answer hit us—the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference! Laurie had stepped in to teach a seminar when another presenter had cancelled, and I had taken her 3-day seminar.

Although the days can feel long sometimes, my fellow authors always help fill the time. We discussed kids, business plans, publishing in general, editors, and school visits, among other topics. I never walk away empty-handed, as I have usually gleaned new ideas or information and have made some new contacts.

Thanks, NJASL for the opportunity to talk with your amazing librarian members! I will see you next year!

October is Boooo-k Month

October is always a crazy month for me. Lots of personal milestones in there. My parents’ wedding anniversary—50 years this year!—as well as my own. My daughter’s birthday (and the requisite party) and of course Halloween and its constellation of activities: pumpkin picking, hayrides, bonfires, trunk or treat, and school parties.

Oh, and I am running for the local school board, and elections are November 5th.

So I’m always a bit busy in October.

But October is also smack in the middle of book event season, and I have 3 events in the next 3 weeks:

October 5th: Collingswood Book Festival, 9 am – 4 pm, Collingswood, NJ

Collingswood 2017

October 12th: Indie Author Day, Galloway Library, 1 pm-3pm, Galloway, NJ

Indie Author Day 2017

October 20th: VPL FanCon 2019, Vineland Library, 11 am-4 pm, Vineland, NJ

VPL FanCon 2017

Whew! That is one packed month!

How is your October shaping up?

A Bookish Week

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year—the Spring Book Fair! This year’s theme is “Chill Out at the Book Fair”. Given that it’s still pretty hot here, that is appropriate. Our library looks like the North Pole, with snowflakes, icicles, snow blocks, and a polar bear.

While the youngest grades are the most work, they are also some of the most rewarding to work with. Today, as I helped a group of 1st graders fill out their book lists, they would eagerly ask me, “How many more can I get?” over and over, as they brought me book after book to add.

The kids pick their books in all different ways, too. Some kids want every book on the shelf, hardly able to make any sort of choice. Some browse through each book very carefully before they decide whether to add it to their list. There’s no right way to do it—they always end up with a good list.

The Book Fair began Monday, and will wrap up on Friday. But my Bookish Week doesn’t end there.

I have my first book event of the season this weekend!

On Sunday I will be at the New Providence Book Festival. I enjoyed myself the first time I was there in 2017 and look forward to hanging out with the authors in the pretty area around The Salt Museum in New Providence. The weather seems like it will be quite nice, so I’m hoping for a good crowd of book lovers.

New Providence 2017

I will undoubtedly be exhausted by the long week of bookish events, but I revel in it anyway. Spending time with book lovers, whether they are in Kindergarten or are fully grown, is always a pleasure.

Please support your school’s Book Fair, and if you are in New Providence, stop in and say hello!

Indie Author Day 2018

Indie Author Day 2018On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an Indie Author Day event in Sewell, NJ. Hosted in the Margaret Heggan Library and coordinated by author Laura Kaighn, it consisted of 2 author panels and some mix and mingle time.

I was on the first panel, Nonfiction and Children’s Books. Since I have a middle grade novel and a genealogy research book, it was a perfect fit. The other authors on the panel were: Laura J. Kaighn (moderator), Linda Silver, Jane Lueder, Kerry Gans, Karen Castaneda, and E.P. Bell.

The second panel was Genre and Adult Fiction, with panelists Brian McKinley (moderator), Laura J. Kaighn, William Gold, J. Lauryl Jennings, Kristin Battestella, and Loretta Wish.

When I first started doing this author thing, I was a scared-to-death introvert (now I am a scared-to-death introvert that hides it well). I took a class called Act Like A Writer taught by Jonathan Maberry and Keith Strunk, and one of the things we practiced was panels. I almost hyperventilated just on the mock panel!

Indie Author Day 2018Since then, being on panels has become one of my favorite things. I enjoy hearing the other authors’ experiences, and bouncing the conversation off their observations is fun. Every author’s journey is different, and I always learn something.

This was a wonderful Indie Author event. Not only were all the authors congenial and knowledgeable, but I got to meet one of my Facebook friends in real life when he stopped in!

This is the third year of Indie Author Day, and I hope to participate in many more.

Indie Author Day 2018

Book Events Past and Future

This is a “sandwich” week for me–the week in between two book events. Last Saturday was the Collingswood Book Festival, this coming Saturday is Indie Author Day at the Margaret Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ.

Book Events: Collingswood Book Festival

Collingswood, photo taken by my Young One

This was my 3rd year at Collingswood, and luckily the weather held out. No sun, but warm weather and therefore a good turnout. I had a pretty average sales day, but enjoyed talking to my fellow authors and the customers while watching the world go by from my (new) tent.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of my Collingswood experience this year was having my daughter with me. My child care plans fell through, so my Young One got up at 6 AM with me and soldiered through the long day until we got home at 5 PM. You never know the mood your 8-year-old will be in, but Young One faced the day with grace and good will. She helped me set up and break down, she chatted vivaciously with our neighbors, danced a lot when one vendor played music, and even got me a sale! I made sure she got a break, though, and we went to the LoompaLand children’s alley, where she got face paint and an appropriate tattoo.

Book Events: Collingswood

While barely recovered from Collingswood, I am preparing for Indie Author Day. I have spent the last 2 Indie Author Days at the Vineland Library, but this year Laura Kaighn invited me to join an event she is putting together at the Margaret Heggan Library. This is a panel event, and I will be on the 11:30 Non-fiction/Children’s Panel, then I get to relax and watch the second panel at 1:30, Genre/Adult Fiction. There will be time to mix and mingle and hopefully sell a few books. I am looking forward to it! If you are in the Sewell area, check it out–info is below.

Book Events: Indie Author Day 2018

And when both book events are finished, I can relax…for a week or two.


Ocean City (NJ) Author Showcase 2018

Ocean City Library Showcase List 2016

2016 Attendees

Today is the Ocean City (NJ) Public Library’s Local Author Showcase. I attended the inaugural event two years ago.

We had a good time in 2016. I mean, it’s a day at the shore, how could it be bad? My husband and daughter came, too. They spent the day on the beach.

The inaugural event went well, but this year the library wanted to see if they could increase the foot traffic. Last time, it was a beautiful summer day. Even book lovers didn’t want to give up beach time for our showcase!

So this year they are trying a week day evening. More people are likely to be off the beach, going to and from dinner, and looking for ways to spend the evening. Hopefully we’ll get a larger crowd.

I’m looking forward to the event. Hanging with other authors is always entertaining, and I look forward to chatting to any community members who come by.

If you’re in or near Ocean City tonight, stop by the library from 4-8 pm!

Ocean City Public Library children's area

Raritan Valley Community College author panel–and the anthology arrives!

Last night I spent a fun evening at Raritan Valley Community College library. A panel of 4 authors–Keith Fritz, Anthony Giordano, Mercedes Rochelle, and me–met with a group at the college library. We had at least 30 people in the audience to watch the author panel, maybe more!

The author panel had a good mix of genre and form–adult horror/dark fantasy, middle grade and YA sci-fi/fantasy, adult historical fiction, and a playwright. Discussion was lively, covering everything from our process, to our greatest challenges. The audience asked about self-publishing, writer’s block, and memoir writing. The group was engaged and attentive, and it was a pleasure to talk with them. Many came up afterward and chatted with us one-on-one.

Thank you so much to Carina Gonzalez, the Raritan outreach librarian who set up this author panel, and to all the people who came to see it. It’s always gratifying to share what I’ve learned with others just starting out. I remember how overwhelming it all seemed when I first began my journey, and I am happy if I could help give someone the advice they needed to better understand something they’re struggling with.

In other news, my copies of the Silver Pen Magazines 2017 Anthology arrived today! They landed on my doorstep after I had left for my author panel, so I couldn’t take them with me, but I am so happy they are here!

VPL FanCon 2017

at VPL FanCon 2017Last week I spoke about having a selling drought at book events, and how even a “dry” event could be worthwhile. I pointed out that I had learned of the FanCon event while at an event where I didn’t sell a single book. I called the next day and they still had table space, so I got in under the wire!

VPL FanCon 2017 was my first ever actual “con” event. All of the rest have been more typical book festivals or other bookish occasions. I didn’t quite know what to expect.

The first thing I noticed was the variety of vendors. A couple of us had books, but there were also comic vendors, artists, game sellers, paraphernalia hawkers, toy sellers, and even a ghost hunting table. Literally something for everyone.

my table at VPL FanCon 2017

Costumes ruled the day. Kylo-Ren and Stormtroopers walked the halls next to the Flash and Green lantern. A man dressed as Wonder Woman balanced a woman dressed as Alexander Hamilton. Pint-sized Pokemon mingled with various gaming characters near the life-size TARDIS.

at VPL FanCon 2017

Panels, drummers, games, caricatures, and making your own lightsaber kept people busy all day. The staff of the Vineland Public Library ran around all day, making sure everything ran smoothly—including ensuring the vendors got lunch from the food trucks outside or the vendors upstairs.

VPL FanCon 2017 was a smashing success. As the first year of this event, no one was quite certain what the turnout would be like. One staffer confided that she had hoped for at least 25 people. Far more than that came—the crowd milled all day, and many of the con-goers stayed for the bulk of the day. As one person said to me with a sigh, “The sight of all these nerds under one roof makes my heart happy.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Con, and hope to go back if they repeat it next year. Aside from meeting interesting people, both vendors and con-goers, I not only broke my book drought but sold just one shy of my single-day sales record.

And to think that I would not have been there at all if I hadn’t gone to that “dry” event the week before.

photo courtesy of Vineland Public Library





The Value of “Dry” Book Events

Book Events - River ReadsThe reality of the book business is that sometimes you go to book events and end up selling zero books. I had two events this weekend, and I hit a sales drought. However, I would never call those events “wasted” time.

There is much to be gained from every event you attend, whether you sell any books or not. Not least is your expanded geographical knowledge. I am not an explorer. I do not like going where I have never gone before. But because of these events, I know places now that I never would have gone to otherwise.

Marketing knowledge is another reason to go. I learn a lot from watching other authors. I get ideas for display, for giveaways, for ways to entice people to your table. I also listen to other authors. How do they pitch themselves and their books? How do they hook the customers?

Networking happens at events, too, unless you don’t talk to anyone. This weekend I met cover artists, illustrators, librarians, and people creating a podcast. I found out about another event I can attend, and a podcast that specializes in interviewing authors. You never know who you will meet, or how they will eventually impact your career.

The final reason I like events, even when I don’t sell, is because of the camaraderie. There’s something special about being in the sales trenches together. Spending time with other writers, sharing war stories or marketing advice or craft tips, is invigorating. Being surrounded by people who “get” writing is comforting, relaxing, and uplifting.

Book events are what you make of them. If sales are your end all and be all, you are missing out on the myriad other benefits of spending time with other authors. We’re all on the journey together—let’s enjoy the company.

Book Events - Indie Author Day 2017

Book Event Season Begins

New Providence book event

With J.R. Bale, founder of the New Providence Book Festival

September through Christmas tends to be a whirlwind of book events for me. In the last few weeks, I have done 3 events, and I have 2 more this weekend.

The first event was the inaugural New Providence Book Festival. It was well attended and enthusiastically embraced by the locals. We had sunny, if hot, weather, but whenever your event us outdoors, heat is preferable to rain!

I was supposed to be on a two-person panel, but a last minute cancellation gave me my first ever solo reading and Q&A at a festival. I was up first in the morning, and the handful of people who came to my panel were interested and knowledgeable. The event went well, and I look forward to next year!

My next event was Eastampton Day. Once again sunny and hot, but a good crowd, better attended than last year when it was chilly and overcast. I shared a tent with the local PTA, and we had a fun time together—although I think I would have sold more books if I had stuck some on their table. They were selling machines!

Collingswood book eventI also had good neighbors at my last event, the Collingswood Book Festival. This year the weather cooperated and we were outside! My neighbors helped put up my tent, and we passed the time chatting about books. It was a good day overall, but the best part for me was the young boy who came up to my table and said, “I read that book. It was amazing!”

Nothing lifts the spirit more than a happy reader!

By busy run continues this weekend with Indie Author Day at Vineland Public Library on Saturday, and the second annual River Reads Book Festival at Prallsville Mills on Sunday. If you’re in the area, stop by and say hello!


WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien