One of My Favorite Bookselling Events

Last year, a craft fair vendor suggested that I sell my books at a winery. A winery? But my mysteries have nothing to do with wine. She assured me it didn’t matter, and she was right.

Art on the Vine-2

This past Sunday, I spent the day at Township 7’s “Art on the Vine” event. Despite the heat, people came to listen to music, drink wine, and support local artists. Sitting in front of the vines and drinking wine while I chatted with customers was one of the most relaxing and fun bookselling experiences I’ve had.

By the way, Township 7 also has a  winery along Penticton BC’s Naramata Bench, and they also hold Art on the Vine days, along with other events. Check them out HERE.

Art on the Vine-5Can’t wait for next summer! Cheers!

 

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The Author Question I Can’t Answer

Author CaptionI’ve been subscribing to mystery writer Hope Clark’s newsletter for quite some time. She often has interesting insights about writing and the writing biz. This week’s topic was about things that writers don’t like to talk about in public. Some of those things included, how many books we authors sell, how much money we make, and how much we spend on promotion?

Plenty of authors don’t like answering those questions because we’re judged by our answers and, trust me, authors face enough judgement. But you know, maybe the questions aren’t that important to begin with.

It’s impossible to know how many books we sell through purchased ads, for instance. For those of us who’ve been traditionally published, royalty statements show that our earnings per book fluctuates a fair bit, depending on the discount our publisher gives the vendor. Let me tell you, 15% royalty on a paperback that’s been heavily discounted doesn’t amount to much per book.

To me, the only question that truly matters and that cannot be answered, is how many people have read and liked your book? I’ve sold a lot of copies to libraries here in Canada. I have no idea how many people have borrowed the book, or even liked it.

When I buy copies of my books from my publisher, I’m paid royalties on those books. For income tax, and therefore recordkeeping purposes, they count as sales. I then sell those books at writing events and craft fairs. On the other side of the spectrum, I might sell one book to a customer who shares it with three or four other people. It’s also possible that my customer might never get around to reading my book at all.

Really, the questions aren’t worth fretting over because my ability to put food on the table doesn’t depend on book sales. I know I’m lucky in this respect, and I’m truly grateful that I can afford to focus on what really matters…joy and commitment toward writing the best book I can.

Authors Who Are Earning Mega Bucks

dollar-signs-money-clip-art-thumb2184272[1]Forbes has released their latest list of the highest earning authors. My income is so far below theirs that it’s laughable. Still, I find inspiration in the fact that many others actually make a great living from their work. Here are the top five, but please check out Forbes’ longer list HERE

J.K. Rowling at a whopping $95 million!

James Patterson, $87 million

Jeff Kinney, $21 million (Author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, he’s the only A-lister I haven’t read)

Dan Brown, $20 million

Stephen King, $15 million (he wrote his 55th novel, End of Watch, last year!)

Needless to say, nearly all of Forbes’ top earners have had movies made from their books, but books are still the major source of their income. So, keep writing folks, and study the pros if you want to join them! The one thing I see in common from the big money earners is that they are born storytellers who give their readers page-turning tales over and over again.

#amblogging: A Disciplined Writer? Well, Kind Of…

Writing Clip Art(2)jpgThe most common thing said to me by writing colleagues is that I’m a disciplined writer. This always takes me by surprise a little because I don’t think of myself as disciplined, just a habitual writer. Someone who does a little bit of writing and editing seven days a week, whenever I can fit it in between the day job, the chores, and family demands. For the most part, it’s been that way since I started writing 35 years ago.

On a really good day—and those are rare—I’ll manage three hours of writing, but never at one sitting. I don’t get up especially early to write. Nor do I sit at the computer for hours on end. Even if I could, I’m not sure I would.

From 2010 to 2013 I had the opportunity to write full time. But even with regular writers’ group sessions, I felt that I was isolating myself too much. So I returned to a part-time day job. Now I have two part-time jobs (one has very few hours per month), and I just took on some volunteer work, again with only a couple of hours per month.

I tend to forget that not everyone can, or even wants to write every day, and that gathering the willpower to finish a novel is a struggle for many. For me, slow and steady gets the job done, eventually.

Sure, I sometimes wish I was a faster, more prolific writer, and more efficient at marketing. But as I grow older I also appreciate how important family is. My ambition isn’t as strong as it once was. Sure, I still have writing goals, plenty of them, and I’m still committed to working on them. Does that make me disciplined? I don’t know.

Often, I get tired, and sometimes I think about quitting writing, publishing, and marketing just to gain a little more relaxation time and peace of mind. This thinking often happens right after Christmas, after an extremely busy fall and holiday season. But I have those goals to complete. More importantly, writing still matters to me. So, I’ll maintain my habit until I realize that it doesn’t matter anymore…should that day ever come.

#amblogging: My Top 5 Reads So Far This Year

On average, I read one book a week, so after a full year I sometimes forget what I’ve read, which is why I keep a list. Every December, I also read dozens of blogs and lists about top reads of the year, so I thought I’d start early and post my top five reads of the first half of this year.

After only seven months of reading, it’s been a challenge to pare my list down to the top five. As I read mostly mysteries and fantasies, the genres won’t surprise you:

Escape Clause

Escape Clause by John Sandford. This author has at least two mystery series going. Although he’s been around a while, I just discovered his work and I’m glad I did!

 

The ConjoinedThe Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee. This is a different type of mystery, and it’s absolutely riveting. Lee is a superb writer, and the book is definitely on the literary side. It’s not a whodunit, by a whydunit, so to speak.

 

Zagreb Cowboy imageZagreb Cowboy by Alen Mattich is a well-written suspense novel set in the 90’s in Croatia. The setting is so beautifully incorporated into the story that you feel you are there. Incredible!

 

Getting WildeGetting Wilde by Jenn Stark. I’d never heard of this author but the premise appealed to me, so I gave it a try. This action-packed, multi-layered fantasy is amazing! Characters, backstory, pacing, plot are spot on.

 

NightwalkerNightwalker by Allyson James and Jennifer Ashley is another delightful urban fantasy featuring vampires and dragons and a kickass slayer protagonist. Again, the action, pacing, and story are great fun.

 

I’ve love to hear what your best picks of the year are so far!

#amblogging: The Many Reasons For Keeping a Journal

Create_a_Personal_Journal1[1]I believe that everyone has a story. Some of the best ones I’ve read came from members of critique groups who were writing their life stories to pass along to their grandchildren. Those stories were filled with captivating details about times and places long gone. How did they do it? Aside from great memories, most of the writers kept journals. The ability to revisit times and places through old photos and the written word was invaluable.

I’ve kept a journal for most of my adult life. It began with boyfriend and school issues, then slowly progressed to work challenges, and later parenting ups and downs. Lately, I’ve discovered another reason to keep a journal. In fact, I’ve started a second one which has nothing to do with me as a writer, but as a daughter.

I call it the dementia journal. Our family saga began two and a half years ago, when my sister and I realized that our mother’s cognitive skills were diminishing. It seemed like a good idea to record what we were experiencing. I’ve since learned that journal records can give healthcare professionals better insight as to what’s happening.

Journals have many purposes, and not all of them are about writing fiction or memoirs. You don’t need to be a professional or even a passionate writer to note things down. But you can jot down a few lines about a memorable vacation or event. How about keeping a food journal filled with great recipes you’ve experimented with? What about writing down goals, or challenges to help you focus, or put things in perspective?

In his blog, Benjamin P. Hardy outlines several potential benefits when one starts to keep a journal. It’s never too late to start. Here’s the link to his piece: https://medium.com/the-mission/why-keeping-a-daily-journal-could-change-your-life-9a4c11f1a475

 

#amblogging: This Year’s Vacation

Bark and I, winery, Okanagan Falls

As much as I love writing and editing, every now and then I’ve got to stop and take it easy, and this week there was no better place than Penticton, B.C. My family and I spent a quick, eventful five days away, enjoying one another’s company and trying new things, in particular, some of the many wineries along the Naramata Bench.

Joie Winery, Naramata Bench

If you’re a fan of wines, this is a terrific stretch to explore, with over 40 small, highly individualistic wineries nudged together in the hills and valleys overlooking Okanagan Lake. We found that stopping to taste wine at four wineries per afternoon was plenty. Many of the wineries allowed us to sample four to six wines, so you can imagine how the consumption added up.

Kanazawa Winery

Unfortunately, many businesses along the Bench are losing business due to fears about the ongoing wildfires. Penticton, while hazy during our first three days there, is out of the danger zone as I write this, and still going strong. The raised water levels this spring are receding and as you’ll see below, the beaches are coming back. It had been five years between visits to this lovely area. I won’t wait so long next time. Lakeshore Drive, Penticton

By the way, if you’re looking for a great place to stay, try Haven Hill Guest House. We had a great time there.