How’s That “Writing Plan of Action” Working For You?

On January 18, 2015, I posted a seven-point “Writing Plan of Action” and promised an occasional update. It’s been a month, so I decided to assess how I’m doing.

(1) Schedule book signings/author events. I have scheduled a book signing on April 11 at 2pm at The Book Shelf in Tryon, North Carolina. I haven’t had any success with public library bookings. I’m not giving up!

(2) Continue to blog every day. I was doing very well with that until I read that I shouldn’t blog every day. (That was the one thing I thought I was doing right!) I’m struggling to find a schedule that suits me and will keep my followers interested. I have a lot of learn.

(3) Continue to research and write captions for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book. I continue to work on that.

(4) Spend two hours each week building a list of places that might sell a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book. I haven’t kept a record of the time I’ve spent doing that, but I have worked on it a little.

(5) Continue to search for writing contests to enter or magazine articles to write. I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made on meeting this point of my plan. I have entered one contest and made a chronological list of more contests to enter this year. I’ll be ready in a few days to pitch an idea to Cobblestone magazine. I’ve written a piece about Maggie McCurdy that I hope the magazine will use in its March, 2016 issue. I wrote an article for Cobblestone in 2007 titled, “Aunt Lula Buys a Model-T.” Putting this “Writing Plan of Action” on paper nudged me into working on this aspect of my freelance writing.

(6) Set aside one day each week to edit my historical novel manuscript. This is where the wheels fell off the wagon. I have only worked on this one day in the last four weeks.

(7) If Arcadia Publishing rejects my author proposal for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book, start in earnest to find a literary agent to represent me and my novel. I cannot submit a proposal to Arcadia until after February 25.

Overall, I’m pleased with what I have accomplished since making this writing plan. It definitely helps me to have a written plan. Based on this plan, I have made daily lists of things to do. I tend to be too optimistic and end up moving many items from one day to the next.

I will eventually get most things on the list done, and I will try not to beat myself up over the things left undone.

Postcard captions in dribs and drabs

The title for today’s blog posting came to me and triggered a question in my mind. Where or how did that saying originate? It seems that dribs dates back to the 17th century in some English, Irish, and Scottish dialects and meant “an inconsiderable quantity” or sort of like “drip.” The origin of drab in conjunction with drib isn’t as clear. It meant a “small debt or sum of money in England in the early part of the 19th century. I must admit, though, that I thought it was “drips and drabs” until I looked it up a few minutes ago. The joke is on me! It just goes to show that sometimes I think I know what I’m talking about but I actually don’t. At least I was using it correctly even though I wasn’t spelling or saying it correctly.

I had hoped to edit my historical novel manuscript, The Spanish Coin, for four hours today. (Anyone remember that Writing Plan of Action I posted about a few days ago?) Instead, a plumber was in the house working in various rooms for a couple of hours. It doesn’t take much to distract me. There was just no way I could settle down and get any uninterrupted time to edit that book between that disruption and then the aftermath of putting things back into cabinets and mopping the kitchen and bathrooms. I did not want to abandon my writing completely, so I did the research for and wrote nine vintage postcard captions in preparation for a possible piedmont North Carolina book for Arcadia Publishing. (My goal was to write two captions today.) I’ll keep you posted.

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!

On my recent trip to Franklin, North Carolina, I visited the Smoky Mountain Host’s Smoky Mountain Visitors Center just south of that town because I knew the Arcadia Publishing sales rep got my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, placed there in August.

Smoky Mountain Host's Smoky Mountain Visitor Center, Franklin, NC.
Smoky Mountain Host’s Smoky Mountain Visitor Center, Franklin, NC.

Smoky Mountain Visitor Center is on US-23/US-441, which is called Georgia Road because it is between Franklin and the Georgia state line. It is a beautiful facility. My book was displayed in the Arcadia spinner that visitors see immediately when they come in the door. In fact, my book was at eye level. Fantastic placement!

My book on the Arcadia Publishing spinner at Smoky Mountain Visitor Center, Franklin, NC.
My book on the Arcadia Publishing spinner at Smoky Mountain Visitor Center, Franklin, NC.

O’Neill’s Shop on the Corner

While visiting Bryson City, North Carolina a couple of weeks ago to introduce my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, to store owners, I happened upon a lovely bookstore just feet from the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad station. O’Neill’s Shop on the Corner was a pleasant surprise.

My sister and I had planned to eat lunch at The Filling Station because it had rave reviews online. After being told it would be a 45-minute wait, we walked up Main Street until Jimmy Mac’s Pizza caught our eye. Lo and behold, we spotted O’Neill’s Shop on the Corner across the street and went there after lunch.

O'Neill's Shop on the Corner in Bryson City, NC.
O’Neill’s Shop on the Corner in Bryson City, NC.

I met the new owners, Tom and Cynthia O’Neill. They are new to the bookstore business. I introduced my book to them and, thereby, introduced them to Arcadia Publishing. I told them how to contact Arcadia’s sales department to order my book and other books by Arcadia.

It was a beautiful, mild winter day in this mountain town. It was the first time I’d been to Bryson City. I want to go back and spend more time there. I want to go back and ride the steam train!

Some “cold calls” go better than others

Most of my recent posts have been positive, but today I’ll share the other side of the coin. I made a few more “cold calls” in Bryson City, North Carolina, on December 13. Some of them went better than others. Although a Saturday in December was probably not the best day for me to be out and about promoting my book to store owners, it was my only opportunity to visit Bryson City this winter. Overall, I had a successful day. I called on three stores there in the afternoon that probably won’t result in book sales, but that’s okay. Bryson City isn’t a large enough town to support my book in every store. I’m confident that it will soon be available in two stores in town and that will be perfect.

Trips like the two I made to the mountains in December have given me confidence and some interesting memories. All the memories fall into the “good” category except for one, which definitely falls into the “interesting” category. I visited one store, which will remain nameless in this blog, in which the owner was less than receptive. After reprimanding me for having called on him on a Saturday, he turned his head and spit. (You can’t make this stuff up!) Needless to say, I do not expect my book to ever appear on the shelves in that store. I can’t help but think that particular establishment stays in business in spite of the owner. The other 25 to 30 store owners I met in December were welcoming and gracious. There are a lot of good people out there operating small businesses. I hope as the economy continues to improve, people will remember to support small local businesses.

As a new author, I must get myself and my book title out there any way I can without breaking my contract with Arcadia Publishing. Together, we are trying to blanket the mountains with my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It is proving to be a slow process, but I believe I made some excellent contacts during the month of December.

My next blog will be about another pleasant surprise I had in Bryson City.

Talking Leaves

When I was researching retail stores throughout the mountains of North Carolina where my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, could be sold, I was intrigued by a bookstore in Cherokee called Talking Leaves.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to visit Cherokee and Talking Leaves. It is in a small strip shopping center at the corner of US-19 and Nickel Drive, next to KFC. The owner, Ron Blankenship, thought he had my book on the shelf. Taking a closer look, though, he realized he had confused my book with another book by Arcadia Publishing.

I showed Mr. Blankenship my book and gave him a postcard with its picture on the front and ways to contact the sales department at Arcadia. I hope he will order my book.