I Can’t

I’m so disturbed by some of the things unfolding in this country that I can’t believe some of it. I know I need to believe it. Every day I wake up to new horrible news.

This morning it was a man on Fox talking about how the Japanese internment camps have set a precedence for some of the things they want to do to Muslims.

Korematsu stands as a SCOTUS decision. They could technically do it. By the time we could undo it, there would already be Americans in camps. This is unacceptable.

I am glad I wrote my giddy post about voting the night before election day. The utter shock and pain I have felt since would have wiped the memory of it out of me.

I am a different person than I was last Tuesday.

Roar

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I thought I would make it through the election season without posting a full blog post about Hillary Clinton, but I am having all the feels tonight and I want to write about it while I am feeling the way that I am. I know tomorrow is going to be a roller-coaster and I don’t want anything to ruin this moment.

I want to begin at the beginning of the 2016 election season, which feels like it was ten years ago. I loved Bernie because I am progressive. I felt the loss keenly when he did not take the nomination. I did not blame corruption or tampering. I understood why the Democratic party would push hard for Clinton. She was the Dem (Bernie was an Indie-come-lately) – it had probably been in the works since she graciously and sportively stepped aside for Obama in 2008. There are a dozen reasons I saw the logic in it. I’m more progressive than Hillary, but only by a little. I am ashamed to admit that I bought into some of the negative campaigns against her since as far back as her being FLOTUS. When the 2016 Democratic National Convention came and Bernie backed her, I had to adjust, but I trust him. I believe he knows he has a bigger picture he is working on, and that he’ll only be able to paint it if Clinton is elected. There is no room for Bernie Sanders in a Trump administration. That is not lost on me. Anyway, I watched the DNC – the whole thing, I have NEVER done that before – and I learned some things about Hillary that I did not know. Mostly her early biography, her speech at her college, lots of rad feminist kick-ass stuff. Plus, she had lots of friends from when she was young who she was still close with. That’s pretty amazing itself. Especially for somebody as busy as her.

So, tomorrow is Election Day. I voted early (last week). I volunteered for an HRC phone bank today – the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. It was a tiny contribution compared to all of the people who were showing up there every day. They even had people taking a bus (from DC area) to Philly to canvass on foot! I do most of my political battles on the Interwebz. I’m actually pretty decent at it. It mostly consists of demanding facts.

I am an active liberal, but I don’t talk about it much here. We’re supposed to separate out politics from our businesses, but I’ve always had a hard time with that. My art and writing has always been somewhat political in nature, about feminism, body positivy, and even my paranormal romance novel is full of underlying messages about those things. Those issues touch all of my work in some way.

I’m just letting this all flow out as it comes. I’m going to try and let it be what it is, and not over-edit it. The reason I wanted to write about this is because I have daughters. Nothing is more important to me in this world than my daughters. I am writing this for them. I am writing this for me, too. Maybe you can find some love in here for yourself as well. I’m happy for all of us.

I really want my daughters to understand, to fully appreciate, what an amazing moment in history (herstory) they are witness to and part of. It feels like all of the times I took shit for feminism, or just for being a woman who is not a doormat, is worth it right now. I want them to feel it deep and move them the way it does me.

I had a lot of self-esteem problems growing up and throughout the first half of my first marriage. We won’t get into why–there were reasons. It didn’t just happen all by itself. Terrible self-esteem is cultivated. Anyway, I suffered the usual street harassment, inappropriate touching, suggestive behavior, being talked down to, and threats that most women have endured. Maybe a little more than some have endured, but not as much as others.

I was utterly clueless in my late teens and early twenties that I was probably making less money than any men doing the same thing I was. I accepted that the barrage of disrespect towards my feelings and my body were just part of being female. I took it for rote that having emotions was considered a subtraction from my eligibility to be a leader of any kind, and I didn’t question any of it. I didn’t understand politics at all back then. I couldn’t even really get the concept of Republican and Democrat down. I feel like I was asleep to the world around me until my late twenties because I was so busy just coping with life. You see, owed to my self-esteem troubles I became pregnant when I was fourteen. I thought I knew what love and respect were. I didn’t. I thought I knew what I wanted in life and what kind of attention I wanted. I didn’t. But the moment I found out I was pregnant I decided that I was going to figure things out and take care of that baby. I took child rearing-classes. I took nutrition classes. I was careful to avoid cigarette smoke, alcohol, and to take my vitamins. I knew I wanted to be a good mom. And I have been that way since then.

You probably know already that however much I tried to prepare for being a mother at age fourteen, I was not ready for the emotional and political navigation that it required. I did the best I could. I missed a lot of things that women who had been alive a bit longer than I had would have figured out. But my heart was in it, even if society was against me on it.

As a fourteen year old pregnant girl, you get a lot of dirty looks and tongue clucks. It wasn’t lost on me that the young man (he was 18) who abandoned me did not have to endure the same scrutiny I did, even though I was essentially a child and he was an adult. Of course at the time I thought I was very grown up, but as an adult with adult daughters, I realize that while I did make the choice to have sex, it was really others who helped create a rich environment for my pregnancy to happen and the subsequent blame I endured, and he did not.

During my pregnancy I learned that a boy could stay in the National Honor Society, but that if a girl were visibly pregnant or found out to have had an abortion–no matter how good her grades were, or how much she put into her academics (even if she was raising a baby AND getting great grades)–she could be denied membership. My academics were not nearly good enough for The National Honor Society, but this did happen at my school not too long after I’d had my daughter – and it enraged me. “The boy can have as much sex with as many girls as he wants, but he can just be off the hook. Why is that fair?” I was utterly powerless to do anything about it. Or at least I believed I was. This was one of many lessons I would learn about how the world worked for girls. There were many lessons it would take me years to understand, and then I had to come to a place where I could absorb intersectionality, and LGBT issues, and so forth.

So, today I was watching a video that somebody made with The Fight Song Hillary Clinton has been using for her campaign. They compiled images of her over the years and set it to that song and I watched it, and I cried. The photo I chose at the top of this blog entry is in that video montage. (If somebody knows who to credit for the image, please let me know.)  I chose that image because it really stood out to me. This moment of her on a beach somewhere, her hair blowing and her head full of ideals. A time before she would be accused of some of the most outlandish, cruel, evil things a person is capable of doing. A time before death threats and savage tweets and Facebook rants against her at every turn would flood through virtual space at every moment of the day. Whatever people who really hate her may think of her now, I don’t believe you could look at that photo and imagine you are looking at anything but a young woman with hope and ideals for the future.

I look at that photo and I see myself. Myself before I knew the way the world conspired against me or tried to make me something other than I was. Before I understood why I hated my body and how the subtle sexism and objectification infiltrated my young pliable psyche. The world tried to shame my body, or tell me I couldn’t be something, or didn’t even bother to tell me the possibilities. And even though I lost my innocence over those things, by understanding their reality, I am not sorry to be awake now, because that means I can help change it for my daughters.

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Me, Me, Me

Some of the reason I have been quiet on my blog is because of how ugly, vicious, and threatening people have been. The Trump supporters have been utterly terrifying at times. Also, several have stooped to fat comments, or short hair comments. Which just really shows you a certain level of maturity. I’ve tried empathy. Sometimes I have seen videos of them emotional and crying and my heart goes out to them, because they really are desperate to recapture something they feel they once had and lost. I can relate to that. But I cannot have empathy for people who believe their skin color or gender makes them better and more deserving than somebody else. Losing the upper-hand isn’t the same thing as being oppressed, but it probably feels like it is. I can only guess all of that rage comes from somewhere, but it doesn’t make it good and healthy to grow a society. If anything, it ruins it. It also stifles discussion, because if one person is been intimidated and is afraid to even talk, that certainly stagnates civilization.

I am an optimist by nature. No matter how many times I am knocked down a peg (or two) I cannot help but see the hope. Sometimes hope is actually agonizing, especially when change comes slowly. And it has come slowly. But it has come. We may have a woman president tomorrow. And whatever happens tomorrow, there is no going back from that.

Hillary could have simply made money and stopped fighting for us. Shit, she could have done that straight out of Yale! She could have stopped growing at each mistake she made. I’m sure she has regrets. I do. I bet you do. She has made mistakes, we all do – but she chose instead to learn and grow, rather than spin her wheels in one place, or tell others they were wrong, and listened to why they might be right. I admire that.

I have come to a place in my life where I believe there are two kinds of politicians: 1-the kind who want to control you and 2 – the kind who want to help you. After all of my reading and fact-checking I have absolutely come to the conclusion that she is the latter.

The other thing I think that’s worth noting is that I do not think it’s a coincidence that social media is more prevalent than ever, and we have the two most hated candidates ever. Every. Single. Thing. Is a scandal. There is so much spin, I am swimming and drowning in information, and worse–misinformation. I don’t know what I would have done this past year if not for fact-checking websites.

I have roared many times, but I feel a roar so loud and so profound building in me that all of my sisters out there, you will feel it. And I will vibrate with your roars, as well.

Let’s all listen to Helen Reddy at least once tomorrow, shall we?

And don’t forget to join Pantsuit Nation on Facebook. It’s part of the reason I am so emotional today.

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My Sister, My Daughters, Me

 

 

 

 

Gratitude Practice

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My week, and subsequently my weekend, was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Anybody who has ever tried to run their own business, or who has to submit themselves to regular public scrutiny can probably relate pretty well to the way things went for me last week.

I had a few confidence shudders. A few squealing belts under my hood that wanted attention. Fortunately I have a pretty great support system. The mechanics of my life stepped in and told me what the trouble was, I listened to their expert advice, even if I didn’t want to pay what it cost in self-reflection. In the end, I chose the path of GET THE FUCK ON WITH IT.

After the tears and the fears started to wane enough to see a clear route, I stopped to reflect on gratitude. I see a therapist and she has me do this thing, which as it turns out is a pretty good thing – at least for me. That thing is writing down acknowledgments and gratitude. The acknowledgements are for the things I have done that day. Little pats on my back to myself, even for small things. Because face it, when you’re in a depression, or stressed and feel a bit like you’re failing – even small feats of organization, house-cleaning, or work can feel like mountains. And when you do big things you can sort of pat yourself on the back for, it helps lay a solid foundation for the direction you are headed. So–ALL GOOD STUFF!

The gratitude portion is just anything I am grateful for. It reminds me that no matter what I might be stressed about, or hurting from, or worried about, there is always something to be grateful for. Sometimes, on days that are rough, all I can manage is things like “easy access to telephones and email.” Among other little things that are actually quite important, like having enough food to eat and a roof over my head. Sometimes these things show up even on days that are a bonanza of good news, just because I remember a time when having those things was much harder.

Anyway, what I did was–instead of meditating on what didn’t go right–I meditated on what DID go right, or at least the parts of my day that were good. So here is what I posted on Facebook.

Good things that happened today – aka practicing gratitude:

-Will made me breakfast in bed. Then went out and got me pads and chocolate.
– Will and I got a little dressed up and looked pretty fly. Wore my new pendant Bridget made.
– Went to Baltimore, saw our friend Barry, had some of his spiced apple cider with caramel schnapps, got my fortune read, got some valuable feedback, enjoyed the Halloween decorations.
– Jade got to see two shows today thanks to Audrey. It makes my heart so happy when my friends are good to my babies
– The sky was amazing the whole way home from Baltimore.
– Stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some tasty food. An attractive woman with curly hair came up to me and flirted with me. She really digs my hair, and called me a silver fox and meowed at me. Lol
– We got home and my Hillary swag was here and I tried on my new shirt and it fit great and looks cute and Will complimented me several times. Kissed me and told me I’m cute.
– Amber sent me some sweet texts.
– Got a wonderful video from our granddaughter – who loves her little Halloween card we sent her.
– Will made me a Nasty Woman (see recipe further down my wall) – but used the cute highball glasses my sister gave me instead of a tumbler – which elevated the Nasty Womanness of the cocktail.

That’s a lot to be thankful for.

The Swing – Sensual Sunday

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It was that peaceful time of day when I would find things to get into. After the high-school had let out, but before all of the grown-ups were home from work.

I was wearing my favorite sundress, white with purple flowers. I felt the light fabric flutter with each step towards him.I watched my own tanned thighs from beneath my sunglasses as they alternated, peeking out from my mid-thigh hemline. I felt golden. Beautiful. Almost powerful, with the attention my body could provoke.

The afternoon was warm with an almost-too-bright sky. Not a cloud. He was sun-kissed and squinting on a bench in the empty park perimeter. I stepped in front of the sun and cast a shadow over him. My diaphanous dress lit up with a sunshine halo around me. I wanted him to notice. Could he see through it a little, I wondered?

He squinted up at me, then looked away coolly, to pop a cassette in his boom box. The sounds of Led Zeppelin whirred to life, with the first words of Staircase to Heaven a little distorted, until the tape caught solidly.

Even on a warm day he wore his jean jacket. I wanted to peel it off of him. I wanted to kiss his neck. I didn’t know how to tell him all the things I wanted from him, so I tried to advertise, as best I could, what I had to offer. My hair cascading down around my shoulders. My wedge-cork sandals emphasizing my calves. My lips glossed and smelling of artificial strawberry.

He got up and grazed me as he passed, sat on a swing, then looked at me. He smiled with half of his mouth, and I felt a tingle all over. He put his hand on his thigh, and the other hand out a little, beckoning. I walked over and looked at his face, locking eyes momentarily. I turned around, lifted my arms to grasp the chains and hopped into his lap. I could smell a mixture of some over-powering spiced cologne, that was trying a bit too hard, and cigarettes.

He scooted back a bit in the swing, making room for my bottom to cradle into the alcove his body made for me. He pushed back hard on the dusty layer of hard-packed dirt and we went backwards. My stomach flopped and my heart pounded. We flew forward and his legs straightened, and mine with them–my dress fluttered revealing the upper parts of my thighs. We pumped, swaying. My bottom pressed hard into the landscape of his lap. I could feel his hardness through his jeans, and I liked it. I didn’t want to ever stop swinging. I laughed and he let out a small laugh too.

My hair blew into his face, and his jacket sleeves kept rubbing against the thinner, more tender skin near my exposed underarms and the side-swells of my breasts.  I wished it was his bare arms, instead. As we swung, centrifugal force pressed me harder against him, and my nipples bumped out in excitement. Gooseflesh covered my body as I leaned back and closed my eyes.

He slowly stopped pumping until the swing was still. We both were breathing almost normal when he took his hands off of the chains and put them around my waist. He squeezed a little then put his lips to the curve between my neck and my shoulder, and lightly kissed it. Then he helped me to the ground, where I wobbled for a moment. He hopped up to steady me and cracked a big smile as I tried to catch my balance. It was a sweet, genuine smile–one I’d never seen on him before. It warmed my heart and made me want to kiss his mouth.

Once I was steady, he walked back over to the bench and sat down. He pulled some sunglasses out of his jacket pocket and put them on.

“See you later, Ophelia.” My knees weakened. I didn’t even realize he knew my name.

As relaxed as I could manage, I said, “Bye, Josh.” And I walked slowly and carefully away, letting him enjoy the view as I went, my high wedges helping with the sway.

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age – 2

I am going to try and make the Love Letters thing on Fridays. I am going to write up a Sensual Sunday today, it will drop on Sunday, so come back and check it out!

It’s hard to figure out how much to share of something as personal as love letters. Things are out of context a bit. There is little clue as to how things between the texts and emails transpired, other than what is written.

One thing people might not realize is that I was married when I met Will. I embarked on a relationship with him two days after meeting him, with the knowledge and consent of my husband. Love is complicated, folks. Anyway, I will begin, as they say, at the beginning. Will emailed me and I emailed him back. Are these love letters? Maybe not. Not yet, anyway. But they are flirt letters. The beginning of a wonderful, and terrible, overwhelmingly beautiful and hurtful decade in my life. These letters are the cornerstone of a foundation he and I built together and holds us up today.

These are slightly abridged versions of the conversations, but mostly they are a copy and paste. Other than that, this is how it began. With words.

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**********************************

From: William Hardy
Sent: Monday, July 15, 2002 2:43 PM
To: goddess@
Subject: Thanks for your address – I’m trying it out

Greetings, fair lady.

It was a real pleasure meeting you Saturday night. I’m looking forward to
seeing you again – before too long, I hope. Yes I thought about you quite a
bit that night. That was the most delicious kiss I’ve had in a looong time.

I’ve been to your site but couldn’t look at *all* of it because [redacted]. From what
I’ve seen (not much yet) I’m really struck by how strong your color sense
is. I wonder who some of your favorite artists are? Well, if you need a
model sometime, I’d be happy to work with you. I used to be good at
charcoal – I haven’t done any sketches since school, but I always enjoyed
working with live subjects. I’m hoping to get back into it, now that I have
all this “free time.” That, and learn to play violin, and write the great
American novel.

What, you don’t believe me?

More to come. Ciao fer now.

-Bill

P.S. Contact info:

[redacted]

********************************

TO: William Hardy
From: Heather Bartlett

Mon 7/15/2002 4:04 PM

Sub: Hi yourself😉

William,

It was a pleasure making your acquaintance as well…glad I could help you out with [redacted]. You must have been awful tired for moving day.

I kept thinking that you reminded me of an actor that I’d seen in movies, but I particularly remembered him from Veronica’s Closet, so after poking around on a Veronica’s Closet Website I figured out that you, with the beard, remind me of Ron Silver, I’m sure you know who he is. What particularly struck me was your smile…I think that was what sealed it, he has a great smile and a great aura, like you.

Some parts of the night are very dreamlike, because I’d been drinking in spurts, shots of bourbon and stuff, but other parts are clear. I was never totally fall-down smashed though. I did get to swim in the pool sometime after midnight, and I think I shocked the hell out of two of the twenty-something frat fellas because I decided to go topless…[redacted]

Thanks for the offer to pose, I’m always looking for subjects, usually I photograph, because I can’t force the art. I get tense when I think about live models because I worry that the artistic ability won’t be there at that moment, and I’ll be wasting the model’s time (I don’t like inconveniencing folks) I can’t force it for some reason, so I keep photos for when the urge strikes me and I use them for inspiration. I have female friends offer to pose for me, so they can help me get used to working with live models, but schedules haven’t allowed that yet. I suppose I’d be less concerned about it if I’d gone to college art classes and gotten used to using live models. Usually I just REMEMBER a moment…and THAT inspires me, curves, shadow, a person’s aura, a feeling. I am particularly inspired by intimacy. I have creative ups and downs. I’m in a creative UP right now. It makes me more flirtatious, more energetic and gives me the ability to see beauty in so many things, it’s overwhelming sometimes.

I wished you would start up charcoal again, I’d love to pose for you if you ever got back into it.🙂

My favorite artists are Klimt, VanGough, Matisse,
Amy Brown (fairies), and Heinz Guth http://www.gutart.rit.se/framehome/frame.html there are LOTS more but those are the first ones that come to my mind. Actually I have more flooding in, but you get the idea.

Tell me about the play you’re working on, and where it’s at and stuff. I remember that it was an original…what theatre do you do work at? I have a production meeting tonight for “All My Sons”, Sweetie and I are doing costumes and props…when Sweetie, John , Julianna and I work on a show they call us the “Dream Team”…heh. Isn’t that funny?

I also belong to a Shakespeare Club called Chamberlain’s Men, http://www.chamberlainsmen.org and we JUST finished Hamlet, I *think* we’re studying “Taming of the Shrew” next. One of MY all time favorites.

Anyhoo, I’ve babbled on a while…I’ll send future emails to your “Super Secret Personal Account”, I giggled when I saw that. You’re too funny.🙂

I’ll see you sometime soon.

Hugs,

Heather

Red Archer & Raven Heights Radio

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When Erica asks if it’s been a year at the top of the program I kept thinking it hadn’t been that long, but it’s because we did a Christmas Special last year – which you should totally check out. It’s family friendly and done in the style of an old gumshoe radio drama.The Hound and the Hedgehog Part 1 & Part 2. I adapted a script from a short story William Hardy wrote for me as a present several holidays back. It really had been about a year since we talked Red August, though. I really need to get out to RHR more often!

In this most recent episode Erica asks me some interesting questions and I go on a bit a couple of times trying to find my footing about what I want to say. After the recording I thought, “Damn, I rambled too much.” But after listening to the episode, I felt a lot better because what ends up happening is you can hear that I’m working it out.

The topics range from how I do my Scottish related research, to what I think of Trigger Warnings, and where I get the material for my sexy scenes. Will talks about the editing process and has some other insights as well regarding love going from overwhelmingly passionate to more comfortable.

So, check out the latest episode of Raven Heights Radio – Neon Waxing Philosphical, Episode 178 – Reflecting on Red August, Introducing Red Archer

You can find out all of the places to order my books at www.hlbrooks.com.

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 2

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Last weekend I was a vendor at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland. I’m a Maryland resident and not too far from Baltimore, so I thought it would be a good book event to try out. The table price is high compared to other events that have author tables. I didn’t list this among my criticisms in my other post about this book festival (part 1), but I do want to spend a moment on this. Books are a business like any other business. Being an independent author is especially hard since you have to create the product, do all of the business side of things, and also fork over the money for any events, promotional materials, product inventory–well, you get the idea. A table at the event was $200 and all-day parking was $26. With just those two expenses I would have had to sell about 45 books to break even. It would have been a miracle if I had sold 45 books at this one event in just one day, so let’s just say I walked in knowing I probably wouldn’t break even. What I did hope to do was start a snowball. What I did hope was that my money spent would be an investment in earning a few new readers who really love my genre and my writing.

My most difficult task has not been the hours upon hours of making graphics, layout and design of the book cover, coming up with marketing, keeping up with social media, even writing the books, going to events and so forth. The most difficult part of this has been finding my audience. My book comes off as a YA at first glance. The female protagonist in Red August is sixteen at the beginning of the story. She’s fairly confident, but has her body issues. This isn’t a trope to me. This is a reflection of myself at about 13 years old, so I know there have to be others who can relate to that. The character is extremely hormonal and sexually interested. This is where I think I lose some of the more YA-oriented folks. They are looking for Twilight and I have given them Twilight, but with more adults, strong female characters of varying ages, and erotic scenes. Detailed erotic scenes. There is also the distracted thinking and judgment that comes with the hormones of adolescence as I recall them. Let’s not forget, this is a Paranormal Romance Adventure book, so besides adolescence in general for her hormones, there are other reasons. Reasons. Anyway, my hope was to come across some readers who I could maybe chat with, answers questions, and find the audience who wants my work. The book festival delivered in that way. Had I been in a section that was more dedicated to my genre, I think it would have been an even more successful endeavor. We were a jumble of genres and even had a beauty pageant table in our tent, for some reason.

When you enter the Tablers Tent you sign in and select your table. It’s a long bowling-alley style series of tents with tables along each side. I mention ways I felt this wasn’t the best set-up and could be improved in the other post. Just a little helpful feedback, not trying to be whiny about it. Anyway, we selected a table about middle of the alley. We were lucky enough to be right at a vent so we could enter and exit behind our table and weren’t literally walled in, being forced to use the exits at either end of the alley. Here you can see Will eating a quick lunch outside of our vent and in front of the Visitor’s Center.

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I want to just say that I really LOVED being so close to the Visitor’s Center, so I hope that it’s in the same spot next year.

Nearing the end of the day I really needed to get up and stretch, so I went for a quick walk to check out the event. It was quite a large event with booths surrounding the harbor. I also took a swing by the Maryland Romance Writers tent to listen to some of the panel talk about writing Romances. At the moment I was there the discussion was about researching history, how difficult it is to make sure you get everything correct with non-fictional characters, and what terrible things a writer’s browser might give up if ever forensically investigated by the FBI. All true things. I could relate to these ladies for sure. It would have been nice if their tent was closer to ours, but I was pretty excited to see the Red Emma’s tent right outside of ours. I would have liked to have spent part of the day in there!

The event was heavily attended, a real plus. It was nice weather, also a big plus. There were plenty of food and book vendors. Plenty of portable toilets. And the Tablers Tent looked looked as though all of the vendor tables were full. There were volunteers that were polite, helpful, and checked on us regularly and brought us water. They could relieve us at our table for a short while if need be. A long list of events and activities were posted throughout the event in the form of large signs. A nice big glossy map to give to attendees. A pretty good event rating overall in my opinion. I hope next year they try to attract book bloggers/vloggers and reviewers.

During the event we were seated next to Rosa Pryor-Trusty and her husband Shorty – who were just wonderful to talk to. It was nice to have some really funny, smart companions to chat with during the slower moments.

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This is a photo of Rosa and me after a long day. We still look like we could take on the world, don’t we? LOOK OUT WORLD!

I met a couple of other authors at the event as well, though I wish I’d had time to meet all of the other writers that were in my genre. Natasha Lane came down and stopped by my table and we talked shop – though I didn’t realize she was a fellow writer at the beginning of the conversation. I’m hoping that if I collect enough cards of nearby women authors we can have the occasional salon. One thing that has struck me about the other women authors I’ve met, is how important the writing is to them. How it’s something they have to do, like any art you are driven to make. There is also an edge of enthusiasm, that despite the odds being against us being able to make a living this way, that is inspiring.  Women supporting women achieving their dreams. We are stronger together.

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It was a long day, and I am grateful to have had Will’s help. I couldn’t do this stuff without him.

 

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Confessions 2016 – Part 1

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This is a shot from one end of the Tablers Tent – it was quite long with approximately 45 tablers.

I was a vendor in the Tablers Tent at the Baltimore Book Festival this past Saturday. I hope to do it again next year, since my second book will be out. There are some small things that bothered me, because nothing is perfect, but overall it was a very good event.

I learned some things about myself. About what I want to do as a writer, and how I want to present myself. I also learned some things about what I don’t want to be, and how I don’t want to present myself. There are also so points I plan on making to the book festival organizers in hopes they make a few tweaks of improvement next year.

Let’s get the things I didn’t care for out of the way first, so we can end on a positive note. The Tablers Tent is a mash-up of self-published authors, non-profit organizations, and regional books. Essentially indie types and folks selling some non-book stuff (apparently). This had the odd effect of having a children’s’ book writer next to a booth of tween beauty pageant folks with a “Oh The Places You’ll Go” banner using Dr. Seuss graphics, which I found highly inappropriate at a literary event, considering they only seemed to be selling their pageant, and possibly tees and other merchandise. They had a spinning wheel, for what I couldn’t tell. They set it up in the middle of the aisle and pushed their table back and stood in front of it. They had tween and teen girls teetering on platform stilettos and wearing crowns giving out some waves and pamphlets throughout the day.

There was also an aggressive author across and down a little from us. They put a huge sign in the middle of the alleyway, which really shouldn’t be ok. First of all, it caused a bit of a log-jam and made it harder for wheelchairs to get through (of which I saw five). The sign was sort of a way to funnel people to their table. The author was there and had an assistant. They stopped anybody they could and gave them a bookmark and a spiel about the book and convinced them over to the table, even from across the alleyway. They called out and got in front of people, therefore many people missed the next couple of tables (mine included) because by the time they took a couple of steps and turned around they were already past my table, and their neighbor’s as well. I was in awe, more than anything. The author stayed in front of the table at all times. Most of the rest of us were behind our tables – except the beauty pageant people. I didn’t care too much about it as a concept, in a larger space, but it did make traffic flow more congested in that one spot, which seemed to almost be the goal. The author had a spinning wheel (oddly, there were THREE spinning wheels within a few tables of us!) where you could spin and win candy, or 50% off of the author’s book. It was historical fiction and the cover of the book was an absolute rip-off of a best-selling book, right down to the coloring, composition, similar font, and even the title was the same with one extra word tacked on to the end. You cannot deny the success of these two people–they sold all of the books they came with, I’m guessing about fifty or so books. They did this before it was even time to pack up, so they packed up an hour early. I think they outsold everybody in the tent, and it was a big tent. But as I watched them I realized that I don’t want to hard-sell my book. I want people to come to it because they like the genre. Or they like my other work, art, blogging–whatever. It did have the effect of making me feel like maybe I’m not doing enough to sell my work, because I would have had to sell 40 books just to pay for my table fee. But if I hard sold my book to somebody and they didn’t like it, I would feel bad about that. I have that luxury though, for now. Maybe I’m not hungry enough? I don’t know. Anyway, I did learn that I don’t want to sell my book that way, even if I was kind of jealous of their sales numbers. Maybe I can’t sell the book that way myself, to festival goers. Maybe I need a crack sales team. Maybe it’s more of a hard-sell attitude I need for bookstores and booksellers. I like an enthusiastic approach to things, but this was too much for me.

The tent was long and didn’t have any breaks in it. This created a bit of claustrophobia for some people, I think. We had a flap behind us, so I could get out via the split, but I saw a number of attendees walk in at one end and take five or six steps and turn around and leave. If at all possible I have two tent suggestions that would have made the experience an improvement:  a break in the tents that allowed the alley to vent people out, but more importantly, allow more people IN through this small alley break. I would also suggest grouping people a bit more by genre. My sexy book was next to and across from children and baby books. The woman on the other side of me is an accomplished author and writer of non-fiction on the lives and history of black people in Maryland and Baltimore. I am very happy to have had a seat next to her and her husband because they are totally cool people and were fun to talk to, but they probably should have been able to be with non-fiction and history, rather than between an artist selling journals and notecards, and a paranormal romance writer (me).

The last criticism I have is that there didn’t seem to be any attempt to provide outreach to book bloggers and vloggers. I would have been very happy for bookstagrammers, bloggers, and vloggers to come by my table so I could provide them with a review copy. This would be very helpful to authors, and to the reviewers as well.

 

Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age

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I realized that I have years of love letters that I could share on my blog. Some of them I could share in whole, some in part. I think it would make a fun new series, since I have so many of them. I realize I need to step it back up with the Sensual Sundays, too.

This modern time of texting, emailing, social-networking, means plenty of opportunity for sharing missives to your muses.

I have always been a fan of the love letter. I love sending them and receiving them equally as well. There is something beautiful about seeing the words, in concrete form (however ephemeral pixels may be), a small gift for you. All yours.

I got this idea when I realized the small love note email I sent to my sweetheart today was a snapshot of my feelings today. The kind of thing you might post on Facebook, if all of your followers were your significant other.

So, here is the first Love Letters – Epistles of Love and Longing in a Modern Age.

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To: William
9/21/16 4:00 pm

Grumpy. And missing you. Wanting to talk your ear off. Wanting to have my desk on my bed. Wanting to pull my heart out and show you where it hurts – have you kiss it and put it back in. Talk about everything. Cheer each other on. Watch you get some much needed sleep. Pet your side. Kiss your cheek. Hold your hand. Get in deep.