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.

A different kind of bookstore in Asheville

After leaving the Biltmore Estate on December 12, 2014, I went to downtown Asheville and visited Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. I knew my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, had been available there since the week it was released in August.

My book on the shelf at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar in Asheville, NC.
My book on the shelf at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar in Asheville, NC.

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is an intriguing combination of old and rare books and hot-off-the-press books shelved and otherwise displayed on and around interesting pieces of furniture. There are cozy little areas where friends can meet for drinks and quiet conversation and chairs in corners where readers can sit and escape into the pages of a good book.

Western North Carolina section at Asheville's Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.
Western North Carolina section at Asheville’s Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.

Seven copies of my book were on a shelf in the Western North Carolina section, a copy was on display on a table with several other Arcadia Publishing books, and one copy was on display on an end cap across from one of the bars! Wow!

My book on display with three other Arcadia Publishing books at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.
My book on display with three other Arcadia Publishing books at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.
My book on an end cap across from the bar at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. Great location!
My book on an end cap across from the bar at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. Great location!

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is located in the Grove Arcade. I included a postcard of the Grove Arcade in my book. It has quite an interesting history. It was built by Edwin Wiley Grove, who also built The Grove Park Inn. He made his fortune selling Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic.

Entrance of Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar at The Grove Arcade in  Asheville.
Entrance of Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar at The Grove Arcade in Asheville.

The Grove Arcade fills a city block at 269,000 square feet. It opened in 1929 with shops and offices. The federal government took over the building during World War II, but in 2002 it was restored to it’s original beauty and elegance and is again home to a variety of shops and offices. After researching it while writing my book, it was a thrill last Friday to get to see the building and enjoy several of the stores there.

One of the Grove Arcade entrances.
One of the Grove Arcade entrances.
Peering through the glass into Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar from inside the Grove Arcade.
Peering through the glass into Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar from inside the Grove Arcade.

As the sun was setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains, we (my sister/trusty photographer and I) returned to Lake Junaluska for the night and a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Lake Junaluska Singers and an orchestra.

What a wonderful day!

Beautiful Lake Junaluska

We arrived at Lake Junaluska late on Thursday afternoon. Lake Junaluska is a conference center of the United Methodist Church. My vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, includes many images from the conference center. After checking in, we visited the bookstore in Harrell Center.

Lake Junaluska Bookstore is in the Harrell Center.
Lake Junaluska Bookstore is in the Harrell Center.

I was pleased to find copies of my book on the shelf in the bookstore.

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on the shelf at Lake Junaluska Bookstore.
The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on the shelf at Lake Junaluska Bookstore.
Section in Lake Junaluska Bookstore where my book and other books published by Arcadia Publishing were displayed.
Section in Lake Junaluska Bookstore where my book and other books published by Arcadia Publishing were displayed.

We had tickets to attend the Christmas portion of “The Messiah” that evening in Stuart Auditorium. It was a thrill to see the auditorium after researching its history for one of the vintage postcards in my book. The auditorium was originally green, so I was surprised to discover it is now a white building.

Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference Center in 2014.
Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference Center in 2014.

The Lake Junaluska Singers performed with back up from other singers and an orchestra that was made up of musicians from Asheville, Black Mountain, and Appalachian State University. It was a wonderful evening and a relaxing way to end a very busy day of traveling and visiting bookstores.

Stuart Auditorium and the mountains reflected in Lake Junaluska.
Stuart Auditorium and the mountains reflected in Lake Junaluska.

Not one single sales gene!

Making “cold calls” at bookstores and other stores that might sell my book is not my idea of fun because I was born without one single sales gene. It is difficult for me to enter a store and introduce myself and my book. Perhaps it will get easier with practice. I am much happier at the keyboard writing. That’s probably true of most writers, but promoting one’s book is part of the job.

I told my friend, Kay, that I was not cut out for life in the fast lane. She didn’t miss a beat and came back with, “Maybe you should of thought about that before you wrote a book!”

If you’ve been following my blog over the last week, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that my book was on all the bookstore shelves in the mountains. I visited several bookstores that had not heard of my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. That was not a surprise.

Eastern National operates the gift/book shop at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville. There were a couple of Arcadia Publishing books available there, but mine was not one of them. The cashier said they will “probably have it eventually.” He said it has to be approved for sale by the national office, the regional office, and then the local office. I’m hopeful my book will be for sale there by spring. Winter is a slow time for tourists on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so spring will be good.

The woman at Fountainhead Books in Hendersonville was not very encouraging, but gave me the owner’s business card and told me to have Arcadia contact the owner directly. I did that when I got home, and Arcadia is following up with Fountainhead.

The Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville, NC.
The Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville, NC.

Joy of Books is the other bookstore in Hendersonville. The woman there was upbeat. She has never ordered books from Arcadia, but she has ordered from History Press and she knew that the two companies recently merged. I’m hopeful that she will order my book.

Joy of Books in Hendersonville, NC.
Joy of Books in Hendersonville, NC.

All the contacts I make while promoting The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina will serve me well if I get to write additional vintage postcard books for Arcadia Publishing and when I get my historical novel published. The title I’ve given that 98,000-word manuscript is The Spanish Coin. Someday….

The Wrinkled Egg

After my cousin suggested that The Wrinkled Egg in Flat Rock, North Carolina would be a good place for my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to sell, I passed that information on to Arcadia Publishing. The sales department followed up with Virginia and she ordered a dozen copies for her store! I dropped by The Wrinkled Egg on Tuesday afternoon, although the fog was getting thicker by the mile and I hesitated to leave the interstate. Virginia was not in but I enjoyed talking to Patty. My book had not arrived, but I hope it will be available there before Christmas.

The Wrinkled Egg on a foggy December day in Flat Rock, North Carolina.
The Wrinkled Egg on a foggy December day in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

The Wrinkled Egg is a quaint gift shop in lovely Flat Rock. Across the street from the famous Flat Rock Playhouse of North Carolina, the shop is in a perfect location for the convenience of shoppers and visitors to this village that is tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Flat Rock. Carl Sandburg and his wife bought a farm there and lived out the last years of their lives there. Their home, “Cannemara” is a State Historic Site and is open for tours. Plan a trip to Flat Rock, where you can visit Cannemara, take in a play at the Playhouse, and shop at The Wrinkled Egg!

My two-day trip to Tryon, Hendersonville, Canton, Asheville, and Flat Rock was an energy booster for me. It was my first opportunity to visit the area covered by my vintage postcard book and see my book on store shelves there. I enjoyed meeting bookstore owners and employees and it was indeed a thrill to see my book on the shelf at several stores!