Thursday, September 29, 2016

Journey Into the World of Book Tours (and Presentations) – Part 2

I’ve now had the privilege of conducting six presentations and book signings at various libraries around the great state of Pennsylvania. Here is a few things I have learned along the way –

Make sure you are well rested. Sometimes easier said than done, but I made sure before my evening
presentation I took a little nap or at least had some down time. I never did any rehearsing either of my program. That tends to make you nervous, etc. Trust in your prep (which you should have done beforehand!). Which reminds me, make sure if you are staying overnight at a hotel, that you pick a good one and in good proximity to your events. Do your research ahead of time and check reviews for the place where you plan to stay.  I also used Priceline to help with the cost and find a reasonable place to stay. To make it work better, check out the hotels in your price range ahead of time using Yelp or Trip Advisor for reviews. Then go for a price point on a site like Priceline.

Try to stay organized. If you have requested tables for your literature, handouts, books, make sure your boxes are packed for that particular table, it goes quicker in set up. I also arrived a good 75 minutes early to greet the librarian or whoever arranged for the program and got the lay of the land, so to speak. In some libraries the program took place among the book stacks, literally! Others had large meeting rooms. Don’t expect that everything will be ready when you arrive. You will likely need to help set up the room. If you plan to speak, make sure also that your PowerPoint presentation is up and running early to avoid any issues. Most libraries do not have a clicker – bring one (much better that way then having you stuck at the laptop advancing photos).

Try to get some book signings in BEFORE you begin your presentation. I said something like – 

I used an easel to advertise about my speaking
"I will be signing books before the program begins if anyone wants to avoid the after meeting rush.” I took care of many book sales at that time (have enough change, your Square credit card reader or other cc card reader ready to go then).  After the program it can get quite hectic, esp with questions and conversation. If you can have a buddy go with you to manage the actual sales, leaving you to sign books and converse, all the better.

I did have to rush a bit at the end on occasion as the libraries need to close by a certain time. Try to stay on schedule.

Make sure you have something to eat and have bottled water with you before you speak. It helps with energy levels and helps your speaking voice.

After the program, make sure to communicate with the libraries or other venues that hosted you. Ask for feedback, recommendations, and to encourage them to ask others in their area if they would
like to have you speak. Follow up is important.

By the way - 
If your library would like to have me speak about my 4000 mile AT adventure - go HERE for more information. I am based in VA and can travel to the mid Atlantic region and PA. I would love to come!

Related Blog:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Journey into the World of Book Tours (and Presentations) - Part 1

Part 1  Setting Up Book Tours and Presentations

Setting up and executing a book tour can seem daunting but is actually a great way to get a book out there for all to see.  Here is what I did and am doing to pull off a nine-library tour around the state of Pennsylvania this fall -  

Make it a library tour. This tour is strictly done at libraries that use speakers as ways to promote readership and interest. It’s an awesome place to have them. Having a good platform to promote the book is important. Mine is 4000 Miles of Appalachian Trail stories and my nonfiction book “Mountains, Madness,Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail” is featured. Discover the libraries that might be interested and query them. Or start with a local library and then ask them to do a small write-up to email via the library-serv as a recommended speaker (or offer to send them a write-up for it). This is how the fall book tour came about after I presented to two libraries in northern Philly this past May (the librarian there had first watched me speak in Shenandoah National Park. One free event led to another then led to this book tour!). Recommendations go a long way for future contacts. I then had different libraries asking for my program info.

My book tour began long ago with speaking at Shenandoah

Construct a good contact letter. Tell the libraries your credentials, your program blurb, the book, and what will be offered (I am offering a 1 hr., 15 m presentation, a book signing, and tables with literature and sample gear from my hike). Include the fee (if you are charging a fee) so they have an idea. Email the letter along with your contact info to each interested library. Be enthusiastic—they are hiring you to present! This is employment.

Negotiate on the fees. I had libraries team up with other libraries to make my journey from VA to PA more cost effective for both them and me. I have a few that had three libraries commit to a weekend or weekday arrangement. Work out a figure, then present it to them.

Start Organizing. Develop a good PowerPoint for the talk. Gather the materials needed (I sent away for literature from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, for instance, to put on the table. I also sent out

Lots to get ready for the tour. Materials, Poster, Props, Gear, etc
for little notepads to put on my table). Make sure if it’s a book signing there are enough books and have ways for them to pay (a Square reader is essential for credit cards). Have some visuals to make things interesting (I hope to set up a small tent, etc.). Show excellence.     

Keep in contact with the libraries who are committed to a program. Organize a spreadsheet and contact them four weeks before the event to remind them of the event, the date, the agreed-on fee, any set-up you will need like a laptop, projector, tables, etc. and include a program blurb and picture so they can do up posters and put it on their website (important!). Ask if they want an invoice for the fee as some libraries have to ask their budget committees. I also sent out an email a week before to remind them of the time I will be there (arrive at least an hour before) and any other info (like where I should unload the day of the event. Obtain their cell number also in case of last minute issues). Make sure you also make hotel arrangements in advance.  

Get ready for the trip! (Stay tuned for Part 2 on how it went and what I learned)

Friday, September 2, 2016

The City of Country Music to the Ozarks to a Book Release - wow

These last days have been busy – with a writing conference in Nashville, a trip to Arkansas to see family and then back home to begin sorting out my writing career and plan for my multi library book tour in PA this fall. And in the midst of this, celebrating the release of a collection that features my novella – “A Crossroad to Love”.

Meeting friends
The annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)Conference is always a well-run machine to re-energize one’s writing career by kibitzing with authors, attending workshops, and trying out ideas and projects with editors. This year’s event in Nashville was no different. Besides the business part, there is also some fun too, like dressing up as my Revolutionary War character to be featured in the next collection I am proud to be a part of, Second Chance Brides
Some genre character dressing fun

– as well as ditching the conference wear to dress up, eat lots of steak and fancy desserts, and watch authors win awards at the Gala.

The highlight for me was inspiration from well-known author Ted Dekker who advocated transformation and making sure we are changed along with
Author Ted Dekker

Wow fancy dessert awaits

the stories we create. Allen Arnold’s insightful workshop brought me to a closer walk with God in everything, and to trust Him with whatever a writing career brings – whether a bestselling novel or an unpublished manuscript that remains hidden in my computer. Either way, the way of a writer is a continual communion with God.

My travels then took me to Arkansas to visit my son for an early birthday, including a trip to Mount Magazine State Park – and Arkansas’ tallest peak – of which we saw the beauty of the Ozarks up close and personal along with scenic vistas and even sighting a roadrunner (Beep Beep!).  I think we were both truly impressed with what this state has to offer, and I was interested also that it does have a long distance trail with shelters that I one day MUST explore.

Onward to drive nearly 1000 miles homeward to begin collecting my thoughts after a whirlwind trip, to celebrate the release of A Plain and Sweet Christmas and prepare for my fall book tour in Pennsylvania that begins September 9.

There is NEVER a dull moment!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trading a Backpack for a Suitcase

On my last section hike. Trading in trail runners for high heels
I’m getting ready for another trip – and this time it has nothing to do with a backpack(!) Though I live out of a backpack several months of the year, right now it is my suitcase I am carrying for my next great adventure.

This time I trade in the backpack and trail runners, the convertible pants and rain hat for a suitcase, nice clothes, and the heart of a writer as I prepare to attend the 15th annual ACFW conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

After all, before I really began my backpacking adventures, I was (and still am) a penman of the word.  In fact, 2017 will celebrate 20 years of being a published author that has seen some twenty plus novels and novellas find the printed page to the eyes of eager readers. I did do some day hikes in the old days and nursed a long sought-after goal to one day complete the whole Appalachian Trail (which I did in 2007 and again in 2010-11, both hikes chronicled in my first nonfiction book, Mountains, Madness and Miracles – 4000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail).  But in the beginning came my fiction work – of which there have been many titles of adventure and romance, but really, seeking God in everyday life to life issues. I draw from experiences and personal issues I have been through to create these stories. I like to weave a tale too that will make readers keep turning the pages rather than close the book on chapter two (which I dislike doing myself when I read a book!)

So this day finds me packing a suitcase as I venture to a writer’s conference to network with fellow authors and talk to editors about future book ideas (of which I always have many!). Just like hiking,
the thrill of writing a good story is a part of me. I don’t want to waste any moment of what I have been given or learned in life’s journey. It’s in that mode of transporting through life’s ups and downs that I can craft a story that speaks to a reader and makes a difference in one’s life as it did in mine.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hit With the Unexpected

We just got bad news today.

Yes, many times the news comes when you least expect it.

Or maybe we should have been expecting it? Unsure. Our beloved Aussie Shepherd mix, Katie, has not been feeling that great for a few weeks now. She has lost weight and got finicky with her food. she didn't move very well. We thought it was just a phase, maybe old age as she is nearing 12. Things start to slow down.

Then she developed some kind of bad skin infection. We took her in to get it looked at. The vet also found a swollen abdomen.

Blood work followed. Wasn't too bad.

The vet was still concerned and thought we should x ray the abdomen to see what is going on. We had that done today.

The vet quietly ushered me to the very back of the clinic to see the picture. There was Katie's liver on one side, her spleen on the other, and wedged in between them, a large circular thing at least the size of a baseball.

Our dog Katie has a massive tumor encroaching on her liver.

I had a feeling all week Katie was not right, that the news wasn't good, despite the fact her skin was healing from the visit earlier in the week. She is rapidly turning into skin and bones. She has lost her vitality. And now the x ray confirmed it.

We have less than three months with her. Tonight we are very sad. We are going to lose our pup that we actually got off Craiglist back in 2012 from a family that could no longer care for her. When we got her she had full blown Lyme Disease and couldn't run.
Katie camping with us at Myron Glaser Cabin
We got her on treatment for it, and in a few weeks she was running and chasing our blue tick coon, Eve. She went to the beach with us for Christmas. She went camping and even hiked. She loved to sit in her "hole" she carved out of the bank to watch everything going on in the backyard. She likes to sit at my feet. She is ever faithful to be a good watchdog. She is a faithful companion and furry friend with gorgeous black eyes. 

Now we are watching her waste away as the cancer eats her up.

But I'm glad we had this time with her, even for only 4 1/2 years. She is a temporary gift from heaven.

And I just know - all good dogs go to heaven.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Miracle of a Wander

As an author, why don’t I just sit at my comfy desk and simply write books? Why do I feel compelled to go backpacking, sometimes for days or weeks on end? Enduring the hardship and pain of hiking with a backpack,  day after day, sleeping on the hard ground, no showers, with gnats in my ears and
the common things of life a challenge to find.

Why do I do it?

To see miracles.

It’s tough for me sometimes to see the hand of God in my day to day occurrences in my man-made surroundings of home. Oh, I know He is there. I have seen it. But out on a trail, you are vulnerable to everything - from weather to the ability to hike, to finding a space to set up your tent, to the water you need to drink.

Which leads me to my latest miracle on the trip I took this past week. It began with water, which became a challenge to find during a dry spell of weather. I carried a guidebook that told me where the sources might be to fill up my water bottles, but many were dry. We take for granted the water that zooms out of faucets every day yet such a common need at home can get scarce in the wild. And the scarcity of this needed commodity can turn dangerous in hot conditions when heat exhaustion sets in.

So when I came upon a small spring, and not just any spring but one where a hard-working trail
The pipe helped me collect water with ease
volunteer had hiked up a steep trail to insert a pipe so I can get water, I was amazed. In another dry area I found the needed water seeping down a cliff face. I had no idea how to collect it. Until God reminded me of the simple leaf – of which there were many growing nearby, and I used a large leaf as a funnel to shoot the water straight into my bottle.


It’s all those things we take for granted that becomes much clearer in the woods setting.

And then there is the rains. They came in abundance for two days afterwards. I was soaked to the bone, sometimes cold even, but now there was water gushing everywhere. I had no
want.  I just also had to dry things out and cope with issues that wearing wet socks or wet clothes can bring.

Such is the life of a backpacker. But in these wanders, I see the greatest miracles within the simple provisions in times of need. And it’s those miracles I carry back to my man-made cave and my writing desk to enrich the lives of others. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Refuse a Boring Life

...Yes, so I am back. And life has NOT been boring while I've been away from here, to say the least....

I've had many adventures since last we spoke - both as a lover of our beautiful word and a lover of the written word!

I hiked 300 miles SOLO last fall through the wild and wonderful state of West Virginia along the Allegheny Trail. See my trail journal for the adventure. It was something else.

I work out in Shenandoah National Park summers along the Appalachian Trail - helping hikers, picking up trash, and communing with bears and such. It's called ridgerunning. So what is that exactly? My boss says it best in his blog On A Blissful Patrol after following me last summer.

I am blitzing Pennsylvania with eight talks at various libraries around the state about my nonfiction book - Mountains, Madness, Miracles - 4,000 Miles Along the Appalachian Trail. I will share stories and pictures from my adventures. Stay tuned for the fall schedule!

I have written several book proposals that are currently being considered by publishers (one based on my love for Shenandoah) and have two novellas coming, a Christmas one for 2016 in A Plain And Sweet Christmas and in 2017 - Love in the Crossfire based on the events during the Battle of Trenton.

AND I will be in attendance at the ACFW conference in Nashville, TN in August dressed in Revolutionary War attire in honor of my release for 2017! Stay tuned for updates from that event.

My books are available to read both in print and electronic. Check out all the selection of titles at Amazon both fiction and nonfiction!