Troutman, NC Branch Library

I had the privilege of presenting a program about postcard history and my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina, at the Troutman, NC Branch Library on Thursday evening. The J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Library – Troutman Branch – is a beautiful five-year-old facility that grew out of a grassroots effort in the Troutman community.

Front of the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library
Front of the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library

Janet speaks @Troutman 005

The library patrons in attendance were interested and responsive to my remarks, and I really enjoyed interacting with them. They took my trivia questions in stride with good humor.

Janet speaks @Troutman 008

I enjoyed the hour I spent with the patrons of the Troutman branch of the Iredell County public library system. It is always rewarding to speak at a public library that has my book in circulation! Thank you, Juli Moore, library branch manager, for inviting me, publicizing the event, and giving me such a warm welcome!

Author Event in Kannapolis

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of holding an author event in Kannapolis, North Carolina’s branch of the Cabarrus County Public Library system to talk about my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Part of the audience in Kannapolis on May 7, 2015
Part of the audience in Kannapolis on May 7, 2015

Those in attendance were very supportive and interested. They seemed to enjoy the “audience participation” portion of my presentation. There was lots of discussion and give and take between me and audience members, which I enjoyed. Everyone was engaged in the presentation, which made for an enjoyable evening for all.

Blue Ridge Mountains word find puzzles and a few of the postcards displayed at the event
Blue Ridge Mountains word find puzzles and a few of the postcards displayed at the event

The library staff had an attractive display of other library books about or which were set in the Blue Ridge Mountains along with a pamphlet listing all those books. Someone put a lot of work into researching the collection and putting the display and brochure together.

Display of other Blue Ridge Mountains books in library meeting room
Display of other Blue Ridge Mountains books in library meeting room

After my presentation and the Q&A portion of the program, I sold and autographed copies of my book. It’s always rewarding when someone is moved to pay $20 for a copy of my book.

Janet, autographing a copy of The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina
Janet, autographing a copy of The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

I appreciate the Friends of the Kannapolis Library’s willingness to host this event. It is only through the generosity of people who voluntarily give of their time and resources to support public libraries on the local level that authors can hold events like this. In today’s climate of budget cuts, decreased library operating hours, and skeletal staff in public libraries, it is not easy to schedule programs like the one I offer. I am indebted to the Friends of the Kannapolis Library and the entire staff there for making this event possible.

Local Author Fair in Kannapolis

Last Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a Local Author Fair in Kannapolis, North Carolina, along with 15 to 20 other Cabarrus County authors. This was the first of what we hope will be an annual event, rotating among the branches of the Cabarrus County Public Library system. I was there to sell copies of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Janet at her table at the Local Author Fair in Kannapolis on April 25, 2015.
Janet at her table at the Local Author Fair in Kannapolis on April 25, 2015.

Joyce and Jim Lavene, a husband and wife author team from Midland, North Carolina, also participated in the fair. It was good to see them again. They have spoken two or three times at Rocky River Readers Book Club and they have been supportive of me as a beginning writer. Joyce and Jim have written several series of mysteries.

Joyce and Jim Lavene, authors from Midland, NC, at the Local Author Fair in Kannapolis.
Joyce and Jim Lavene, authors from Midland, NC, at the Local Author Fair in Kannapolis.

I enjoyed chatting with the Lavenes, Michael and Rose Eury of Concord, and Linda Leigh Hargrove of Kannapolis. Michael Eury has written several books for Arcadia Publishing and is currently writing a book of “legendary locals” of Cabarrus County. Linda Leigh Hargrove has written several novels, including The Making of Isaac Hunt: A Novel and Loving Cee Cee Johnson.

Perhaps at a future Local Author Fair I will have a novel to sell in addition to my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina!

Book signing at The Book Shelf in Tryon, NC

Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of having a book signing at The Book Shelf in Tryon, North Carolina. Penny Padgett, the owner had issued the invitation when I stopped by her independent bookstore in December to promote my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Janet with Penny Padgett, owner of The Book Shelf.
Janet with Penny Padgett, owner of The Book Shelf.

It was a beautiful spring day and a delightful day to travel to the edge of the mountains. Tryon is a lovely little town just off I-26 in Polk County. The downtown business district includes a number of interesting shops. The Book Shelf has been there since 1952.

Janet, autographing a copy of her book at The Book Shelf.
Janet, autographing a copy of her book at The Book Shelf.

After learning about my reading interests, Penny recommended three books to me, so I came home with three intriguing books — The Carolina Mountains, by Margaret W. Morley; A Passel of Hate, by Joe Epley; and The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas, by John Buchanan.

I had the pleasure of meeting Susan McNabb, an author from Asheville who lives in Tryon. Joe Epley also lives there, as do a number of other writers.

It was exciting to see young readers and middle school readers come into the bookstore and search the shelves for treasures to take home. It warms my heart to see children and youth who love to read!

Lunch at The Lavender Bistro, just a couple of doors from The Book Shelf on Trade Street was just as enjoyable as it was in December. If you are looking for a nice day trip, or somewhere to eat lunch and shop in a nice bookstore on your way to of from the mountains, I highly recommend that you get off the interstate and spend some time in Tryon, North Carolina.

Front door of The Book Shelf with a poster promoting my book signing.
Front door of The Book Shelf with a poster promoting my book signing.

2014 was an exciting writing year for me

Most people take December 31 or January 1 to reflect on the last year. Leave it to me to wait a few days. I can procrastinate with the best of them! Looking back on 2014, I realize what an exciting writing year it was for me.

I celebrated the following firsts: (1) My first book, a vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, was published on August 25 by Arcadia Publishing; (2) My first author event was held at the public library in Harrisburg, North Carolina, on September 11; and (3) My first book launch was held on September 21.

In the last three months of 2014, I had additional author events at public libraries in Cabarrus and Haywood Counties, North Carolina.

Two whirlwind trips to the mountains of North Carolina in December to promote my book, to thank bookstore owners for selling my book, and to introduce my book to other bookstore and gift shop owners were my first forays into commercial book promotion.

In my spare time, I have done a bit of research in preparation for submitting an author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a Piedmont North Carolina vintage postcard book in 2015, but most of my time has been spent promoting the Blue Ridge Mountains book. That book is my primary focus. I have two author events scheduled in April and May. With the holidays behind me, it is time to turn my attention to lining up additional author events this spring and summer.

Last week I took time to write a 1,899-word piece to enter in the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2014 GENEii Nonfiction Writing Contest. I’ll talk more about that and my subject matter in another blog post this month. The winner will be announced on May 1, 2015.

Sometimes I don’t think I get much accomplished. It’s gratifying to take a few minutes on December 31, January 1, or even January 4 to remember what I did in the last year. Will I be as productive in 2015? Stay tuned!

Canton Public Library Author Event

On Monday afternoon, December 1, I had the pleasure of talking to people who had participated throughout the month of November in National Novel Writing Month “write-ins” at the Canton Branch of the Haywood County, North Carolina, Public Library about my experience while writing a book for Arcadia Publishing. This was different from all my earlier speaking engagements about by vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

The audience members were attentive and asked some good questions at the end of my presentation. I enjoyed my time with them. I felt like we were kindred spirits since I, too, hope to get a novel published someday.

In addition to talking about my experience in writing a book for Arcadia Publishing, I told them about Judith H. Simpson’s book, Foundations in Fiction and recommended that they look for it. It is a good “nuts and bolts” how-to book about writing good fiction. Judy was my teacher fall semester 2001 at Queens University in Charlotte. Her Fiction Writing course was a life-changing experience, and one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Judy is no longer with us physically, but she is a very real presence every time I sit down to write. Judy was a gifted teacher.

Each time I have a speaking engagement, I feel a little more at ease than the previous time. I hope that means I’m getting better at it, too!

Marketing my book

In an attempt to get the word out about the availability of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I have written letters to 30 bookstores, pharmacies, and gift shops around the state this week and enclosed a marketing postcard from Arcadia Publishing.

Today I was thrilled to hear from Allen Eskens, author of The Life We Bury. He saw my blog about his book, and dropped me a note of thanks.

I was supposed to participate in the Downtown Christmas Festival in downtown Lenoir, NC tomorrow in a tent with several other authors. Circumstances prevent my going, so I had to cancel at the last minute. I hope to schedule some author events in some stores or public libraries in that area after the first of the year.

Scheduling author events continues to be the most challenging part of the writing process for me.