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.

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.

Where Writers Work

What does your writing space look like?

I used to like to share images of my art studio and read about the way other artists organized their spaces and decorated.

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Although I still do art and still have plenty of art supplies and use my tiny apartment as both a writing and art studio, this blog is about my writing.  This is where I spend a large portion of each day, blogging, tweeting, tumbling and currently I am writing the second in my Red August series – a modern Red Riding Hood tale set in the 1980s.

I have two screens because I’m also a photographer and do a lot of photo processing.  It actually comes in really handy when writing too – to have documents and research in my left screen and my work in the main screen.

I keep my notebooks nearby.  The Moleskine notebook that says “Ideas” on it is for whenever I have a random writing idea.  For example I had some inspirations about how to frame a modern Cinderella story.  I just grab it and jot them down.  I have a notebook for Red August and a notebook for general erotica and one for the short stories I want to podcast with Will.

I’m hoping to get into vlogging, but I have been somewhat reticent about it.  I’ve found it difficult to just get blogging.  Maybe this week will be the week!  I’m happy to hear any of your vlogging tips!

Below are more images of my space.  Under all of the images are links to some of the stuff in my space – like the composition notebook and where I got that cool “Heather” drawing.

Please be sure to share your studio space with me!  I would love to see it!

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Mermaid watercolor in gold frame – Ching Chou Kuik

Heather graphic art (hand drawn) – Shelly Cusic

Inspirational Clay Tiles – Tammy Vitale

Clay Moo Mini-Card holder – Gina Mai Denn Pottery

The Gilded Tongue – this book is fantastic.  It’s full of all kinds of wonderful words!

Writer’s Market – required tool.

Woe is I – For the grammar phobic.

Moleskine – great for sketching, jotting ideas.  Has a nice vintage feel with its simple design and stitched pages. A trusted medium for decades, for artists and writers to store their ideas.

I wish I could remember the name of the artist who made my mirror.  I’ve long since lost the card.  It was purchased at Main Street Gallery in Prince Frederick, MD, which has closed.

Composition notebook, with its sturdy cardboard cover in black and white splotches is also a trusted medium for writers.  They store nicely and fit well on bookshelves.  The heavy cover means it’s easy to decorate to your liking.

There is a lot of other stuff – but it would take me a while to list them all.  If you have a question about anything specific, let me know.

*** To vegans who have found this studio space blog entry through my Gypsy Siren website – I’ve had the feathers for over ten years.  I don’t buy feathers anymore unless they are synthetic.

Fairy Tale Fortnight Event and Giveaways

I posted a few posts back about an event by The Book Rat and A Backwards Story – Fairy Tale Fortnight.  It’s pretty much just an awesome online celebration of fairytales.  Please go by and see what they are featuring, which by the way includes some contests for free stuff.

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Which also includes a contest to give away five e-copies of my book Red August, which is coming out in August.

Go directly to that part of Fairy Tale Fortnight HERE.  That page features a Safe For Work excerpt from Red August that can only be found at the Fairy Tale Fortnight page.

Below is the book synopsis or blurb.

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Writing Process Stuffs

If you have suggestions and software you’re excited about, be sure to leave a message in the comments!  I want to know all about it!

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I was talking with a friend about some of the writing process stuff I do.  This was pertaining primarily to publishing novellas and novels.  There are a lot of great tools out there for writers and some of the software is technically advanced and helpful.

You can go old school and send out query letters to agents and publishers – you will need a copy of Writer’s Market.  Or, you can do what even some established authors are doing and switch to self-publishing. In recent years independent publishing has had quite the boom.  That’s pretty good for people who are anxious to just get their stuff out there or who don’t want to wait for replies or who are just sick of rejections.  But remember, publishing on your own has its own set of problems, too, as you will find in my friend’s blog HERE.

I am always curious about the processes of other people.  In the e-book version of  Water for Elephants there was an author Q&A that was wonderful.  So, in case anybody is interested in what my process is for novels it is very simple.

1 – I make a notebook.  In the case of Red August, I used a cheap composition notebook and decorated and made a pocket in the front.  I divided it into three sections for notes on all three books in the series.  This is helpful not only before writing the books, but during the editing process as well.

2 – I draw “props” that are in the story that might get complicated.  Like August’s wooden box that is full of treasures. So when I revisit the item later, I can be sure to remember all that is in the box and what it looked like.  I make family trees, so I can keep track of births, deaths and the years and ages people should be and the way they are related to each other.

3 – I write in Word.  Here are some links to the proper formatting of manuscripts:

http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/what-are-the-guidelines-for-formating-a-manuscript

4 – I give myself deadlines.

There is usually plenty of research that goes into writing a novel.  For me, there was a lot of time spent looking into original Red Riding Hood stories as well as werewolf lore and Celtic traditions.  If the piece is set in a specific era that has an atmosphere I want to convey, there is usually research related to that as well.

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Shenanigans in Publishing

I keep up with what’s going on in the self-publishing market, for obvious reasons (oy, with the research, can’t a girl just write something?) and I wanted to share THIS ARTICLE just because it’s the strangest article I’ve ever read.  At first I thought it was a satire article – in part because photo looks so staged and in part because…just…so.many.things.

Even as I’m about to post this, I double-checked to make sure it wasn’t the plot of a weekly evening soap opera.  An interesting read even if you aren’t in the book world.  But especially if you’re in the romance and erotica book world.  And also, anybody who follows Amazon and their shenanigans.

Can’t we all just play nice?

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