Saturday, June 25, 2016

Destination: Maine

In the (almost) four years that I've officially been a published author, I've been to a good number of signings, both large and small. I attended the Tennessee Valley Author Event in my hometown of Knoxville, TN a few years ago, and earlier this year, I attended Romancing the Smokies in Alcoa, TN. There are several other small signings in the area this summer that I'm unfortunately missing out on, but this September I'll attend the annual Thunder Road Author Rally in Maynardville, TN.

But I want to travel, you guys. I have a wanderlust a mile wide, a bucket list a mile long, and so much yearning to travel around and see ... everything ... that sometimes I almost ache with it.

I want to travel to events, which should be no problem, as big events and conferences are aplenty in cities all over the US AND abroad. I could just choose one, spend a bucket of money for the privilege of being there, cart a thousand books along with me, and hang out at a trade table between two other authors, looking across the room at countless other authors, waiting to be noticed among the many.

These big events are truly a ton of fun though, don't get me wrong. I first felt recognized at a big event, where someone walked up and didn't recognize me at all, but picked up a copy of Selkie and turned to her friend excitedly to say, "She wrote this! This is that book I was telling you about!" It's indescribable, what that felt like. These events always feel a little glamorous to attend, as I get to meet people in this business that I respect and admire, while interacting and getting to know readers and other authors who respect and admire me. Usually there's lunch, and I get to take a break from daily life for a while to BE something more than the on-demand chef/taxi/stylist/scapegoat for my kids. At these larger events, the mundane aspects of my job that make people think it isn't an authentic career option ("But you're home ALL. DAY. How can you just sit around like that? Isn't it BORING?") fall away, and I'm recognized for what I am, an entrepreneur trying to create something from nothing, both in the pages of my books, and in the various accounts that hold my meager royalty payments for three minutes each month before the money is gone. I'm recognized as a creative, as an artist, as a professional - except of course, for when I crack a stupid joke and someone looks at me like an overgrown teenager whose sneaked into the adult area.

I love those big events.

But I love equally, or maybe even more, the small events. At those events, readers are less intimidated, authors are somewhat less overwhelmed, and it feels a lot more casual even if for the most part, it isn't.

So as my fifth anniversary as a published author approaches, I've been thinking of a way to celebrate the milestone, a way to really cement my sense of commitment to thing that has meant so very much to me.  I imagined how fun it might be to host a very small meet-and-greet styled signing of my own. One that doesn't have readers pouring past anywhere from twenty to over eighty other authors. One that allows us to get up close and personal, to really talk to each other. One that allows me time for a reading from one of my books, allows you time to ask me questions without feeling rushed, and yes, allows time for a small book signing session.

For the past several months I've been running a Google form that asked people to vote on a few things to do with the meet-and-greet, such as where and when I should host it. Currently, the voting form is still open - but there does seem to be a pretty decisive majority so far. The vote options for the timing were December or July of next year (December because that's when my actual anniversary is, and July because that's summertime and no one will have to worry about their flights or travel plans being snowed out or otherwise ruined), and so far, it looks like I'll be traveling next July. As for where I'm going, I actually left that up to you. I voted on the form twice to test it, once on my laptop and once on my phone, both times for December, and each time for different locations. One of those locations was Bar Harbor, Maine, because that's where Selkie is set. It seems that although I got outvoted on when to travel (which works out for the best, I think), the majority is with me on where I'm going. (So if you needed time to make travel plans, that's the plan so far - Maine in July.)

Traveling to Bar Harbor has been a wish of mine for a long time ... I don't know why, but I LOVE Maine and have always wanted to go there. Setting Selkie there gave me a fun way to take a sort of virtual vacation, researching the pier and the sandbar, the island, and the feel of the town. One of the most fulfilling moments I've had as an author was getting a message from a reader local to the Bar Harbor area, who praised my research and was surprised to learn that I had never had the pleasure of visiting Maine at all. I'm so excited to think I'm finally going there, and the fact that my first meet-and-greet will (probably) be held in the very place I chose as the setting of my first book ... It opens up so many possibilities and ideas for the way I'd like to host the event.

I imagine this event as a very small one; I'm bringing a friend who has generously volunteered to come assist me (sadly not the infamous cousin Dana, who doesn't travel and isn't ever likely to), and I'll have the event set up as more of a casual get-together. If Bar Harbor sticks, then we'll probably be having a Selkie-themed event, with door prizes and swag largely influenced by the things and events featured in that beloved story. There will, as I mentioned previously, be a reading from the book, a q&a session, and a small signing where you can purchase books to be signed (or bring books/items you already bought). Likely, there will be a few other little fun things thrown in, too.

But truly, this is your party, your event, and I want your input as the planning progresses. If you haven't voted yet (or I guess if you have but you wanted to vote VERY emphatically), then please click here to help with the first stage of planning my first meet-and-greet.

Until next time,
Happy Reading.
B.

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