Category Archives: authors

Festival Recap

Dayton Celtic Festival

This festival is held every year on the last weekend of July. The cultural area is only open Saturday and Sunday, although that could change in the future because it’s influenced by whether or not the Dayton Dragon baseball team has a game or not. The cultural area is in the concourse in front of the stadium.

I did this festival many years ago when it was in another location. When the festival expanded to use Riverscape, Heather Schieman, the Cultural Area Director, contacted me. For a few years, I was the only author. Last year I was joined by Terrence O’Leary and this year David McDonnell joined us. It was HOT! The crowd seemed slim, especially on Sunday. But I sold a decent number of books and met a lot of cool people. I love going because it’s the area my husband and I grew up in and we usually have old friends stop by.

 

I spoke twice. Once on tips to find your Celtic ancestors and once on the topic of my new book Celtic Song. Small, but enthusiastic audiences!

And this year I also got to visit with the Irish wolfhounds!

My biggest seller at this festival:

And a close second:

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Dublin Irish Festival

Held the first weekend in August, this is one of the largest Irish festivals in the world. Here authors have their own tent: The Authors’ Corner.

We are cared for by The Book Loft of German Village staff headed by the awesome Julie Burgess. This year 17 authors were present. Many of us have been together for several years now, sometimes meeting up at multiple festivals, resulting in friendships.

With author Jim McVeigh.

One year there were four Irish authors from the north of Ireland, and since that time it’s become one great party. Last year J.P. Sexton had to cancel at the last minute because of an injury that rendered him physically unable to come. This year he was also physically unable to attend but this time it was because he was turned away from boarding a plane due to a VISA issue or maybe it was a passport issue. He was in Ireland and was trying to get back. It’s all very mysterious, however, because he is a natural born US citizen, although he spent most of his childhood in Donegal. (A story for another time.) The year he was here, he taunted author Greg McVicker for leaving his Schmidt’s Cream Puff (forever after referred to in the Authors’ Corner as the Dublin Cream Bun) unattended while he visited with potential readers. Below you see JP taking advantage of that. Was this photo staged? I’ll never tell!

Well, JP’s situation this year would not go unnoticed. Authors Jim McVeigh and Greg McVicker (two of the Irish lads) penned an ode to JP and got some of the other authors to join in recording the song. I wasn’t there because they did this at the hotel where they all stayed and I’m local and don’t stay there. I knew you’d ask! (Check out Greg’s Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/ThroughtheEyesofaBelfastChild/) And Jim’s Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/fartymcfee/

There is some mild language in the song, but Americans might not notice because it’s Greg’s Belfast-talk. But you’ve been warned in case that matters to you. It is hilarious, for sure.

Creative people, aye?

Back to the festival.

There was a good crowd this year. The weather was fantastic. Not as many as I would have thought found their way to the Authors’ Corner. I sold a couple more books in Dayton than I did here, and this was Friday-Sunday. Positive thoughts for next year, though. And several people did go home with signed copies. No complaints about that!

 

Best seller in Dublin this year:

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

But only one more than second place:

At this festival I spoke to a bit larger group about Celtic Women. They were a fun crowd, despite it being nearly the end of the festival on Sunday before my assigned time came around. This festival draws good crowds for all the talks by authors, storytellers, musicians, and historians.

A Deal for You!

Not able to attend this year? Until the end of the month, you can get any (or all) of my books shipped free in the US. Well, one exception. I sold so many Celtic Song titles that I don’t have those. But I have all the rest. And if you’re near the Book Loft, you can pick up signed copies there. They have two copies of Celtic Song.

Here’s the run down:

Brigid of Ireland: $5 (very limited number left)

Pages of ireland: $12

Enya’s Son: $16 (very limited number left)

The Roots of Irish Wisdom: $9

If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, use the contact form below. Thanks!

 

Look Out the Window

Advice From Fellow Authors About Life

Photo by Danielle Dolson on Unsplash

About five years ago the Christian writing community lost a novelist named Diann Hunt to cancer. She bravely wrote about her struggle in her last years, and I followed her on Facebook. In her last few months (she passed away in late November) she gave advice freely, not just on writing, but on life and the things that matter. I’ll never forget reading her words when she said, “Stop whatever you are doing right now and look out your window.” I was reading Facebook, so I looked away from my computer to my window and saw the most dazzling sight. It was autumn and the sun was striking the gold leaves outside my window at such an angle that they actually glowed. It was an amazing sight and I would have missed it if Diann hadn’t told me to look.

Another author, Liz Curtis Higgs, can always be depended on to shine God’s light and encouragement into our lives. She is also a cancer patient, but doing well right now. My goodness she has 30 appearances scheduled this fall! She was speaking at conference I attended recently and she was talking about humor. She said there is plenty to write about. “Just look out the window!” She’s right. Life gives us plenty to write about if we will just look. It also gives us plenty to reflect on.  When Liz said that, and repeated it a few more times, I was instantly taken back to that day I did look because of what Diann advised. I could have missed it. I could be missing plenty right now. So might you.

Photo by Kaye Hanson on Unsplash

Beauty All Around

We get so busy, don’t we? We forget. All it takes is a moment to refresh ourselves and to remember that there is a Creator who is constantly creating beauty whether we remember to look or not.

So, look out your window (or look up from your phone) and tell me what you see right now.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

September 2018 New Releases

 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

A Baby for the Minister by Laurel Blount — Jilted at the altar, Natalie Davis has no one she can turn to—until Jacob Stone steps in. The single minister’s drawn to the beautiful mommy-to-be and wants to help…even if it goes against his congregation’s wishes and could cost him his job. But when she refuses to accept charity, can he convince her she’s more than a ministry project? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Her Secret Heart by Mary Davis — Deborah Miller lives a double life as an Amish woman—and a fashion model! All photography is forbidden in her Plain community, so she must keep her job a secret. But when Amos Burkholder starts helping at her family’s farm, hiding the truth from him is impossible. And soon she must choose between the Englischer world of modeling and the Amish man she’s come to love. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley — Can Malcolm MacGregor, a contemporary descendant of Scottish lairds, capture the heart of Brazilian-Italian beauty, Alanza Cantalamessa, in 12 days? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

All Made Up by Kara Isaac — Katriona McLeod has never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she’s ever loved. When she accepts a job as a make up artist on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she’s cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Holiday Wedding by Carrie Lighte — On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Holiday by Marissa Shrock — The Christmas season greets Georgia Winston with a new boyfriend (maybe), a Christmas program to run, and a man dying at her feet. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)


General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

From the Lake to the River by JPC Allen, Bettie Boswell, Carole Brown, Sandra Merville Hart, Tamera Lynn Kraft, Sharyn Kopf, Michelle Levigne, Cindy Thomson, and Rebecca Waters — Set in Ohio, in the past and present, these nine short stories and novellas by Ohio authors cover a wide range of genres, topics and locations. From Troy in the west to the North Coast and south-central Ohio. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River. From romance to YA adventure, with touches of mystery and humor. Dealing with historical events and situations, such as floods and the lasting effects of the Civil War. With characters involved in square dancing, theater, and music. Dealing with loss and danger, a second chance at love and taking a chance on love for the first time. Chances are good, no matter what you have a taste for reading, you’ll find something to like. Welcome to a taste of the Buckeye State! (General Contemporary from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Place Called Home by Brenda S. Anderson — While building his graphic design company, Nate Brooks is focused on the future he’s dreamed of: traveling around the country from the comfort of his renovated school bus. But when he picks up a wounded, mysterious hitchhiker, those well-laid plans take a backseat to protecting her. Hobbled by her injury, and unable to keep running from her controlling ex, Tessa fears she’ll never find freedom. Or has she found it with the family who graciously opens their home to her? And will Nate’s protection put his family–and his heart–at risk? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson — Jillian Connors has big expectations for her teenage daughter, Gabby, an Olympic hopeful—until Gabby becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Travis’s child. Meanwhile, Margaret Owens is furious that Gabby’s condition jeopardizes her son’s baseball scholarship. In the midst of the family drama lies the fate of the unborn baby. What does the future hold for him? (General Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Historical:

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson — A gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted the evils of the Hitler regime in their own extraordinary way. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Everything She Didn’t Say by Jane Kirkpatrick — A Victorian woman who traveled 15,000 miles by stage between 1870-98 decides to tell the story behind her memoir believing her husband will never see it. (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Enya’s Son by Cindy Thomson — This retelling of the early life of St. Columcille and his mother will usher readers on a fateful journey through ancient Ireland’s monastic centers, her wild coastline islands, and the land Columcille believed was filled with holy angels, a place where he felt safe … yet was destined to abandon. (Historical, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:

Victorian Christmas Brides by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstads, and Erica Vetsch — Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Esther’s Temptation by Lena Nelson Dooley — Saddle weary, former deputy US Marshal Jac Andrews rides into Denton, Texas hunting a swindler-and-daughter criminal team and finally feels he’s caught up to them. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted by the lovely redhead, Esther Brians. Esther, feeling like an old maid surrounded by all her close friends who are happy married couples, is drawn to the intense gaze, blue as the Texas sky, of an unknown cowboy. But several things cause her to become wary of his intentions—and his spiritual well-being. Has this unsaved lawman captured Esther’s heart or will the Lord deliver her from the temptation of Jac’s presence? What will it take for Jac to win this lovely lady and become Esther’s husband? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler — Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents’ insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


Romantic Suspense:

Loving the Texas Negotiator by Mary Connealy — Beth Garrison is the top hostage negotiator in Rocky Ridge Texas. She’s called in to a task force to investigate a killing that is a copy cat of her first bust as a rookie cop. The Valentine Killer.
Tate McCade, with the best arrest record on the force and a reputation for steamrolling anyone who gets in his way, heads the task force. He’s had a run-in with Beth and her oversized ego. He’s got a bruise on his face to prove it. Rather than have the pleasure of busting her back to walking a beat, he has to work with her. And the clock is ticking because there’s a woman and child missing and nothing about the crime adds up. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Speculative:

Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell — The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, her only respite is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock. Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)

Festival Recap

How It Began

DIF 2017. Missing: Brenna Briggs, Therese Gilardi, Ben Anderson

First, let me say the people at the Dayton Celtic Festival were very good to me. They stopped by to talk about Ireland and genealogy, and which books of mine they’ve read. They bought a lot of books, and it was my privilege to be able to sign them for folks. They were also good at making St. Brigid’s crosses! Excellent students. 🙂 Heather has worked hard to grow the Cultural Area, and she is a delight.

But the week brought some tough news for no less than five people in various walks of my life: cousins, prayer partners, my son’s National Guard unit (there was a fatal car accident), and one of the festival authors who normally would have been at the Dublin Festival. Really, really tough stuff.

So when I got to the Dublin Festival, I admit I was not in the best of moods. And then our tent looked backwards to us. We were convinced no one would find us this year, and Friday sales were slim.

But, there are some fantastic authors in that tent. Add in some Irish humor from a couple of the new authors, and things got better. As a whole the festival was very good for me, and I hear it was for the other authors as well. The fantastic weather on Saturday brought a ton of people to the festival and at times our tent filled up with book browsers.

I just found out what happens when a writer leaves her computer for a weekend. #connecting #writinginspiration Click To Tweet

The Readers Show Up

Oh, my goodness. I talked to so many interesting people. I can’t begin to describe all the conversations I had, so I’ll just share a few.

This young woman, Rebecca, has become a big fan. She’s read the entire Ellis Island Series, and is currently reading Brigid of Ireland. She picked up Pages of Ireland at the festival. She makes me think I better get a move on with the next novel! She’s so faithful to email me, read my newsletter, and show up at my appearances. It’s for readers like Rebecca that I’ve written these stories.

This is Jessica Krcal. She stopped by because her boss sent her. You see her boss, Lexi, is my friend from my youth group days. And she doesn’t live in Ohio. Neither does Jessica. They are in Virginia. Jessica was visiting family and planned to come to the festival. When Lexi heard that, she said go see my friend Cindy. So she got this photo to show her boss she followed up. 🙂

And I met a young woman named Autumn, who had bought a book last year. I had a nice chat with her and her friend. Turns out Autumn works for a book printer and they do work for Tyndale, one of my publishers!

Another woman popped in to tell me she bought Brigid of Ireland the weekend before in Dayton. She said she enjoyed it and read it in two days!

A few readers who get my newsletter and/or follow me on Facebook stopped by to tell me that. A young woman who was named after St. Brigid decided she must get Brigid of Ireland. I talked to several people about places in Ireland and about their genealogy. I signed a copy of Brigid for a young girl whose mother a few months ago gave birth prematurely. Her dad told us a bit of the struggle that family is having but things are improving and they are coping. Several people told us how very much they love books!

And then these folks stopped by.

Can you see what is on the leash?

Yes, I Did Talk

I had a talk on Saturday titled, Turning Novels Into Novels. I read excerpts from my books. There was a decent size audience and they were attentive, which is always nice. 🙂 On Sunday the group was smaller, but still attentive and even asked some good questions. That topic was The Ancient Books of Ireland, a bit of the research I enjoyed doing that didn’t make it into my novels.

So, Pretty Good!

Even with the bad hair days I had.

I also enjoyed catching up with some vendors I know. I met a new lady too. She makes embroidered designs copied from grave markers in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and frames them. She told me how she got this inspiration, and how she kept dreaming about these designs until she landed on the idea to make them into wall hangings and then the dreams stopped. She doesn’t want them on clothing. She wants to respect the original intent of the families who erected these markers. She lives here in Ohio.

And Tom and I enjoyed the festival finale before we went home and fell exhausted into our bed. I have since received some emails and Facebook messages from readers, and fun chatter with the authors and Barb, our author’s corner coordinator who is so good to us. Oh, and one more thing I want to mention: The Book Loft!  Julie, Sean, Josh, and Ross, are such nice people not to mention knowledgable about all kinds of books. If you are in Columbus don’t miss visiting the unique book shop, The Book Loft.

Because I Don’t Get Out Much

SharingWriting is by necessity a solitary endeavor. So it’s great to get out and meet the people who will read your books. And connect with friends and family who came to the festival. I’ve heard it said that to write a novel people will want to read, you have to have experiences, which means you can’t stay behind your desk all the time! This time of the summer and fall is my time to do that. Make sure you get my newsletter to find out what else is in store.

Been to any good festivals lately? Tell me about it in the comments.

About Those Book Reviews

More of What Readers Need to Know

Reader

via Flickr Laury Rouzé

I posted about this before, but today I read an article in the ACFW newsletter that I think might  best help explain to readers why posting book reviews is critical to authors. I’m reposting here with permission. If you, too, think it’s helpful, please share.

Reader’s review provides at least 4 key benefits for a book and its author via @acfw & @cynthiaruchti Click To Tweet

ACFW Tidbits

by Cynthia Ruchti 

Do you write book reviews? Some say a reader’s review provides at least four key benefits for a book and its author:

1.     Credibility. When publishers, retailers, libraries, and prospective readers see a large number of reviews for a book, they know the book has drawn a measure of attention.

2.     Visibility. Algorithms of online retailers like cbd.combn.com, and amazon.com dictate that books with large numbers of positive reviews will obtain a more prominent visual presence on their sites.
3.     Quote resource. Many authors share snippets of a positive review to help others get a feel for the book’s tone, theme, or impact.
4.     Persuasiveness. Reviews can entice prospective readers, retailers, and libraries to purchase books they might have bypassed without the review.

via Flickr GotCredit

via Flickr GotCredit

If you’re a published author, you’ve no doubt seen both beneficial and what might be construed as harmful reviews. You may have asked others to post a review for your book. Have you also provided a guideline for the kind of review that would be most helpful? Consider using these tips when writing reviews or when inviting others to review a book for you:

·      For a blog or online retail review, if the teaser for the book or the book’s back cover copy is already part of the blog or book information visible to those who will read your review, there’s no need to repeat that information. An online review is not a book report. It’s a reaction to the story and its impact.

·      Resist the temptation to reveal any element about the plot or characters that will spoil the book for other readers. Few things make an author cringe more than having a reviewer give away an important plot point that took two-thirds of the book to set up.
·      Keep it as short as you can and still communicate what you need to or are compelled to say.
·      Don’t change your review in response to what others have said about the book. Be genuine. But do skim other posted reviews to ensure you’re not merely repeating what has already been said. Your review will be most meaningful if it adds another dimension to the reviews’ “discussion” about the book’s merits.
photo by denise carbonell

photo by denise carbonell

·      Limit your comments about the story to the story. If your book was damaged in shipping, or you never have liked that genre (and still don’t), or if page 211 was missing in your copy, or the margins on the Kindle version were messed up, that’s not a review of the book. Those comments need to be directed elsewhere.

·      Watch carefully for what the stars mean. Don’t inadvertently give a book a one-star rating because you think that means it’s a top-notch book, first place on your bookshelf. Take time to make sure you’re communicating accurately.
·      Don’t forget to include a review on Goodreads.comand FictionFinder.com.
Thanks to Cynthia Ruchti acfwrelations@acfw.com for allowing me to reprint this.

What Readers Don’t Know

photo by Paul Bence

photo by Paul Bence

If Readers Aren’t Authors

They may not know this stuff. It’s perfectly understandable. You read your favorite author’s books, and that’s enough, right? It might be enough, unless your favorite author is not very well known and you are hoping he or she will write more books. In that case, you as a reader can influence whether or not your favorite author keeps publishing. How? By writing reviews.How Readers Can Influence What Books Are Published. Click To Tweet

Amazon Has Rules

And most people know nothing about them. But when you think about it, it makes sense. Amazon wants to recommend books that customers are likely to purchase. A book with one or two reviews, in their opinion, is not likely to be that book. So they recommend books that others have liked. How do they know what people like? By the reviews, of course.

I recently read a blog post that sums it up very well. The author of the post, George McVey, points out some of these Amazon rules:

I bet you didn’t know that after an author gets 25 reviews on Amazon, the company begins to include them in their “Also bought” and “you might like this” lists. This increases that books visibility on Amazon and helps put the book in front of more potential readers. That helps to boost sales.

When a book gets 50 or more reviews, Amazon highlights that book for spotlight positions in its monthly newsletter. This put’s the authors book in front of literally hundreds of thousands of potential readers. This can mean a huge boost in sales for your favorite author.

photo: Enokson

photo: Enokson

More Rules

photo by Michael Stout

photo by Michael Stout

 

Also in that post, he points out something I bet you didn’t know (I didn’t either.)

…leave a well-written review…because of a new app that came out recently called “Fakespot”. This app claims to be able to tell you how many reviews of a certain book or product are fake. By that they mean not posted by customers but by friends, relatives of authors or are bought reviews. How they determine if a review is fake is based on the quality of the review.

Readers Do Read Reviews

You’ve probably read reviews before deciding to purchase a book (or other products, for that matter.) So you already know the influence reviews can have. A number of bad reviews, and you don’t purchase. But more good reviews than bad, and–this is really important–a number of honest, well-written, and complete reviews go a long way toward influencing whether or not you will buy something.

For more subway shots, please see my subway set: www.flickr.com/photos/pamhule/sets/72157623210921064/ © 2010 Jens Schott Knudsen | blog.pamhule.com

For more subway shots, please see my subway set: www.flickr.com/photos/pamhule/sets/72157623210921064/
© 2010 Jens Schott Knudsen | blog.pamhule.com

How To Make An Author Happy #readers #writers #authors Click To Tweet

If you need some pointers about how to write a review that will be helpful to your favorite writer, be sure to check out McVey’s post. And please, leave those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and also other sites such as Barnes & Noble.

Make An Author Happy

Sofia Wins The Clash!

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson
Conqueror ButtonThanks to all of you who voted. I understand the competition was fierce. But since it was a competition between books, it was friendly. I think the other books had some great covers and are worthy of checking out.

Here is the link to the announcement.

Why a Competition?

The winner gets free exposure on several blogs, and hopefully new readers will discover the book. There is literally an ocean of new books published every year, so it’s hard to get noticed. As an author, nothing makes me sadder than to write a book no one knows about. I encourage people, whenever they find an author they enjoy reading, to write a review for Amazon, Goodreads, and Barne & Noble. And to tell their friends.

Thank You!

For voting and for reading! I write my stories for YOU!

A New Place to Meet Authors

The Ides of Books-author meet and greetThe Ides of Books

It’s a Facebook group that has a party every 15th of the month. How cool is that? You can interact with the authors, read excerpts, and even get a free PDF that contains the first chapters of the featured authors’ books.

Here are two links for you.

The Facebook Group page

This Sunday’s Party Event Page

I’ll Be There!

I’ll be interacting off and on, but I’m on the group page today (Thursday, Nov.12) and I’ll be chatting live and doing giveaways (yep, free stuff!) this Sunday, Nov. 15, from 4-5PM EST. I hope you can make it, but if not come next month on the 15th!

My Pet Peeve About Other Writers

This Embarrasses Me About Other Writers

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t ignore it. One of these days I just might say something, but so far I haven’t figured out how to say it. So for now, I’ll just explain here on my blog.Find out what I dislike about some fellow authors. #bookrant #authors Click To Tweet

Cindy Thomson's author tableEvery time I go to an event where there are multiple authors there is at least one who hard sells his/her book by telling potential readers that theirs is “a really, really good book.” That “all the reviews have been stellar.” That “everyone who reads it absolutely loves it.” And especially embarrassing, “I guarantee that you are really going to love it.”

Reading is Subjective

Gaelic proverb

On the wall of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo by Beth

The truth is there is no one book EVERYONE will love. Do you love every book your friend loves? Do you share the same reading tastes as your boss? Have you ever had a hard time figuring out why a certain novel is so popular when you didn’t care for it at all?

I’m guessing you said yes, you have experienced that. So who would actually believe what that author is saying about her own book? Probably no one. She is making herself look foolish or at best, completely ignorant. You might say she was boastful or even arrogant. In any case, as a fellow author sitting nearby, I feel embarrassed.

But it Works!

Read books!If your goal is simply to sell books and bring  home some cash, then yes, it does seem to work. I see authors that run after readers and give their own works high praise sell more books than those of us who don’t do that. I don’t know why people buy. Maybe they believe her, or maybe they are trying to be nice. After all that small talk they feel like they can’t walk away. I don’t know.

Maybe this is the reason that bookstore signings don’t work. The reason people see an author at a table and refuse to make eye contact.

I’d Rather Reach the RIGHT Readership

I’ve worked hard on my books. I want the people I wrote them for to actually read them. I was once at a book festival where an author seated next to me told my husband, “I don’t care if people read my books or not. I just want them to buy them.” Ack! Why bother writing the thing then? I guess I just won’t understand some people. EVER!

Author Cindy Thomson's complaint about the overly aggressive author sales pitch. Click To Tweet

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy ThomsonTwo young girls stopped at my table last Saturday. They picked up Grace’s Pictures and Annie’s Stories and read the back covers. They said, “This sounds interesting. I don’t think I’d read it but it sounds like something my grandma would like.” Did I argue with them? Did I tell them, “I guarantee that if you buy this you will absolutely love it!” No. I think they are probably right. They said they enjoy fast faced, adventure-like stories. I suggested Brigid of Ireland, but I did not press them. One took a picture of the book cover with her phone. We talked a bit about reading preferences. Why force a book on someone if that person is not your target audience?

Every Writer is in Love With Their Book

It’s true. We all want the whole world to love our stories. But it’s not going to happen. If an author says everyone who has read their book has loved it (and I’ve heard that claim more times than I can count!) it’s a lie. Maybe the author believes it, but it’s still a lie. If every Amazon review is five stars, something is wrong. It’s not honest. There have been people who have hated my books. I’m not sure why they had a such strong reaction, but they did. Thankfully, many more loved them, but reading is subjective. We like different things. It’s how God made us!

Let the Readers Speak

5 star review for Annie's Stories by Cindy Thomson

Annie’s Stories

That’s what I prefer to do. I may not sell a ton of books at multi-author events, but I will not pressure anyone into buying a copy. I just won’t. That’s not who I am. Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening!

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth–a stranger, and not your own lips. –Proverbs 27:2 NRSV

 

Writers Are Unique People

Just in case you didn’t know that, I’ll tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

Mentoring Mentor mug

There are mentors for all kinds of occupations, and what my county does with high school students I think is tremendous. Even before they get to college students are able to get some real life experiences to find out if they would like to work in a certain career. They’ve been doing this for years. I didn’t know anything about it until a few months ago when a gifted coordinator (that’s her actual title) from a local school district contacted me and asked me to mentor a high school senior. I really enjoyed doing this since I’ve mentored students online for several years and I used to teach. I’ve also had a couple of college interns. But in this program, I was somewhat of an anomaly, because Bethany is as well. If you assumed I was the only author mentoring a student in the program, you would be correct. (But I didn’t care.)

A Writer Must Write

No matter how difficult the path is (and it is difficult, make no mistake), no matter how unsure the possibility of financial gain, a true writer must write. If someone can choose another career, he or she must do so. Because if you feel like you have a choice, you may not make it as a writer. It takes dedication. It takes perseverance. It requires hours and hours of working alone. It requires being able to hold up under a cloud of rejection. Sure, lots of writers work in other occupations, but if you want to write you simply must have the drive to do it. You can’t NOT do it. A writing career is not for the “take it or leave it” personality type. If you do not possess this drive, then do something else because nothing you write will impact readers. And that’s what all readers want–to be heard.

Unique, Meaning Not The Same as Everyone Else

Bethany could not think of another career she’d like to explore. Writing was it for her. So her counselor had no choice but to seek out a published author for her to mentor under.

At the end of the mentorship the programs holds a luncheon to honor the mentors and to show off the students’ final projects. The other mentors present were professionals such as veterinarians, nurses, politicians. They seated me at a table between a forensic scientist and an aerospace engineer. Seriously. The brain power at the table was overwhelming. How could a novelist not find that amusing, and a bit intriguing at the same time.

Mentor student Bethany

Bethany Garrison, my student, with her mentorship project

The head of the program (the gifted coordinator) admitted at the beginning that we would have to be creative. I have no office. I have no procedures to observe or patients to work on or clients to see. And of course, Bethany and I were creative. We talked a lot about writing career choices. We visited a publisher and spoke with some editors. We chatted with my literary agent. She joined my writers meeting one Saturday. And in the end she was the only student who chose the option of making a scrapbook for her project. Very creative, I thought. Yes, she still wants to be a writer. (Despite the reality check I was honor bound to present. Few are able to make a living at being a novelist.) She has no choice but to write, really, because she has that peculiar writer’s virus–a gene, a brain that simply must write or have no rest. (Hmm, I wonder what the genetics researcher would think of that? Yep, that person was a mentor too!)

The World Needs More Good Writers

Just as much as scientists and engineers. Sure, there are tons of books out there. Plenty of people fancy themselves writers but then never put in the work required to produce high quality books. We don’t need more of those kinds of people. But we do need more books that are so well done that they inspire us to become better people. Bethany strives for excellence. I’m sure she’ll find it. It might be a long time before another high school student requests a writer as a mentor. We are different and not many can understand us. (We really do hear voices in our heads!) But I sincerely hope they invite me to mentor again. It was refreshing to see the author gene alive and growing.

Best wishes to all the young writers out there. Take up your pens and follow your heart!