Time off

I am trying to burn off some vacation days which I will lose if they are not taken by the end of the year. I’m taking two of them Monday and Tuesday.

I figured this would be a great chance to get a head start on my National Novel Writing Month project, and to pick up my apartment, which is even more of a nightmare than usual.

My first day of NaNoWriMo has been slow. I think I’ll make my 1,667-word daily target, but I had been hoping to do more than that. My novel this week is based on a couple of characters, both of whom I have fairly strongly in my mind, but I’m light on plot at this point, and the characters are going to have to do whatever comes to them in the next 30 days.

I’m not sure if I’m going to get all eight of my excess vacation days taken by the end of the year. When our business manager first told me that I needed to take them, I immediately signed up for the week after Christmas. Last year, I had to miss a family trip to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge because of work, and I figured this year I’d be sure to make it if my parents decoded to repeat the trip.

Well, there will be a Pigeon Forge trip, and I will be part of it. But I discovered that, because of the way the pay periods are divided, the five days I signed up for that week won’t help me at all with my vacation problem. They count towards 2010, not 2009. Oh, well.

I’ll update you on my NaNoWriMo word count at the end of the evening, and at the end of most evenings.

Book report

Well, I whined a couple of weeks ago about not having sold any novels in a while, and since that time I’ve sold two. I’m not sure whether it was the whining or whether it was my post on the health care Bible study a day later, which was linked to and resulted in a spike in visitors. Or maybe it’s just coincidence.

I went to an economic outlook conference today in Murfreesboro. Most of the speakers talked about the economy, but at one point they gave out an award to an elderly businessman and he gave an entertaining but much-longer-than-scheduled acceptance speech. It turns out that at one point, H. Jackson Brown was doing the advertising for the award winner’s car dealership in East Tennessee. That led to the award winner telling the story of how Brown ended up, almost by accident, self-publishing, and then selling, “Life’s Little Instruction Book.” It made me feel a little inadequate, and a little guilty, at my offering and at how little I’ve done to promote it.

At a standstill

Why is it everyone who comes to Africa has to write a book about it? One silly beggar even dedicated his to me! Never came back or I’d have shot him in the pants!
– Johnson (played by Torin Thatcher) in “The Snows of Kilamanjaro”

I’d been meaning to post something about the novel for several days now, and when I heard that line on TCM just now it reminded me.

A couple of weeks ago, when I spoke to my nephew’s class, the teacher had suggested I talk a little about the fact I’d written a book. I looked for a nice clean copy to take with me as a Visual Aid, but I couldn’t find the three or four nice copies I had in the apartment, so I ended up having to take one of my weatherbeaten proofs, with the covers all curled up.

I found the books over the weekend; they were right out in the open, in a place I thought I had looked. I don’t know how I missed them.

I haven’t sold any copies, online or in person, for a while now. Now that the trip is over with, I need to figure out some way to get things started again, if that’s possible. Perhaps it’s not; perhaps the novel has run its course. But I keep thinking there’s something else I should be doing.

I tried not to push the novel on my mission trip teammates, though one or two of them heard about it and read it anyway. There was one who asked me about it several times during the week and I was sure he would buy one once we got back to the states; he hasn’t, and I think it would be inappropriate of me to remind him too directly. Maybe I can work it into the conversation next time I see him.

Fortunately, none of the three people to whom I have dedicated my novel has shot me in the pants. Not that I haven’t given them reason from time to time ….

Doldrums

When we were all in the car headed to Nashville Friday night for our symphony concert wrapup meeting, Dawn Holley asked me how the novel was going.

It isn’t, actually. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve sold a copy in person, and longer than that since I’ve sold one online.

My North Carolina brother wants me to try to market it to a traditional publisher, but I just haven’t had time to fool with that — or to do anything more aggressive about marketing the self-published version.

I do get occasional nice comments from people who bought the thing early on and didn’t read it until later. Of course, you never know how seriously to take nice comments.

The author, outdoors

100_0011

Well, the good news is that I sold seven copies of my novel today at Lorena’s in Monteagle.
The bad news is that six of them were bought by Gail Drake, the proprietor, and the seventh was bought by one of her employees.
Even so, I did better than my hometown book signing, where I sold only five. :)
Gail bought several copies to send to various supporters of LEAMIS.
It was a beautiful day, and so Gail had me set up right outside the store, across from a LEAMIS display. There are a lot worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, believe me.
My co-worker Mary Reeves and her son Benjamin, who plays the lead in “Enter Laughing” (I play his grouchy boss) stopped by along with Mary’s youngest son, Buzz. No, they didn’t make the drive from Coffee County just to see me; they occasionally spend the weekend on some property in the Monteagle area.
Things have slowed down some with the book. I haven’t sold a single one online this month. New Covenant has sold out of the five copies I left them after the Shelbyville book signing, so I’ll be taking them my last two copies tomorrow. But at least two of the copies sold by New Covenant were bought by … my father. (“You know, you can get them from me,” I told him.)
I need to do something else to promote the book, but I’m not sure what.

Painter of light

New Covenant Christian Bookstore in Shelbyville has been very kind to me in regard to hosting a book-signing and selling the novel — actually, they’re out right now, although I’ll be getting them some more copies to sell next week – so I wanted to mention a personal appearance by Thomas Kinkade they have coming up this weekend. I’ve never been a big collector but I know people who really enjoy his work, and I know it’s a huge deal for Dennis and Andrea to be able to host him here in Shelbyville.

Book-signing in Monteagle

Just a reminder: I’ll be signing copies of Soapstone this Sunday from 12:30 until 3:30 p.m. at Lorena’s Gifts in Monteagle. Gail Drake, the owner of Lorena’s (it’s named after her mother, Lorena “Rene” Bass), is also the co-founder of LEAMIS and one of the three people to whom the book is dedicated, so it’s only natural that she host a book-signing.

I see from the schedule of events at the site that there will also be a LEAMIS presentation and a tasting of Kenyan food. So please come, if Monteagle is a reasonable drive for you.

My day

Today was supposed to be a huge high point for me — the day of my first big book signing.

Here’s how the day has gone.

This morning, I had a minor glitch with my replacement DVR. I think, and hope, it’s nothing, but my first thought was, “Oh, no, they’ve given me a lemon to replace my lemon.”

I arrived at my book signing and discovered that, instead of the 23 books I though I had, I had only 14 — and one of those had a ripped cover. My publish-on-demand company shorted me, and (perhaps because there weren’t as many books as intended in the shipping box) failed to pack the books as well as they should have, allowing them to slosh around. I was furious with the company for shorting me and furious with myself for not having examined the box more carefully when it first arrived.

So now, I really was in danger of running out of books at my big book signing … right?

Well, no. I only had five customers. Five customers is better than no customers, but I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I tried to publicize the event as well as I could, but I don’t know if I did as well as I might have. Or maybe people just weren’t interested.

Dennis and Andrea at New Covenant Christian Bookstore were great to me, however, and they took five of the leftover books on consignment. So the book is now available at New Covenant.

Tonight, on my way to a banquet, I had to stop by an ATM machine and make a deposit. Believe it or not, juggling my wallet, my checkbook, the money and the envelope, I managed to “deposit” a completely empty envelope. Luckily, I recognized what I’d done right away, and I immediately repeated the deposit, this time with actual money. I’ve e-mailed the credit union and I’ll call Monday to touch base, although it should be pretty obvious what happened.

It has been that kind of day. I’m grouchy, and tired, and I have to go to Sewanee tomorrow for mission trip planning. I’m excited about the planning, and about seeing my LEAMIS friends, but part of me just wishes I could curl up on the couch tomorrow. I’ll be very busy with play rehearsals for the next month and a half, and my down time is going to be scarce.

Book signing

Well, I’ve got my big book-signing tomorrow at New Covenant Christian Bookstore. I have worred about everything from no one showing up to running out of books. People have been very kind, and I’ve had several people tell me in recent days — now that it’s too late to order more books — that they’re planning on coming. I have a stock of 23 books right now, and I’m afraid I might actually run out. I should have ordered more. But if I’d ordered more, I would probably have ended up having five people come.

If I do run out, I’ll bring along a note pad and take people’s names, and I can order more books and figure something out about how to get them to people and get them signed.